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fore, of his performing any work through the violation or suspension of law, we cannot but regard as a great mistake; while to speak of his doing things by methods unknown to us, seems to be entirely proper. And true philosophy will teach us to speak with great caution in reference to things with which we happen to be wholly unacquainted. There may be many laws of nature wbich the purposes of this life do not require that we should
—and which, therefore, we do not see and trace in their operations all around us. Nothing can exceed the vanity and presumption of that man who claims to understand all the natural operations of things, and who boldly pronounces whatever his little mind cannot understand, an absurdity and a falsehood. As well might the “ Indian prince," before referred to have declared the absurdity and falsehood of the belief that water could become hard enough for men and animals to walk upon it as upon solid ground. Lazarus might have been raised from the dead by a simple operation of a law of God which we do not understand, and which it is not necessary that man should ever know in the present state of being. We do not know all things; and to assert that the wonderful works ascribed to our Lord could not have been wrought by the mighty power of him who built the universe, may evince a very daring spirit, but it surely proves nothing.
The whole matter, then, the reader will perceive, rests upon the credibility of the witnesses who have testified of these things, in connection with the moral purity of our Sav
impossibility of a miracle, properly defined, is entirely out of the question. Considering the character and amount of evidence by which the actual occurrence of miracles is proved, we are bound as reasonable beings to believe the fact; and in thus believing the whole truth, we may experience something of that life which we “ live by the faith of the Son of God.” Who are these witnesses ? and what is their character ? Hume says: “We enter. tain a suspicion concerning any matter of fact, when the witnesses contradict each other; when they are few, or of a doubtful character; when they have an interest in what they affirm; when they deliver their testimony with hesitation, or, on the contrary, with too violent asseverations.” 10 All this is well said. How stands the matter with reference to the biographers of the Son of God ? Have they run into glaring and suicidal contradictions ; one crying, Lo, here, and another Lo, there, and presenting before us a confused and senseless history, unworthy to be respected by rational minds? The miracle of Christ's resurection was no very trifling matter. Were the “ five hundred brethren," 11 who saw him at once after he was risen, “few ?” and were they, probably, "of a doubtful character ? " Were the multitudes in Jerusalem and in the regions roundabout, who witnessed the mighty deeds of Jesus, such as no man could perform, an insignificant number of obscure and unknown persons, though embracing many of the priests of the land ? Had the faithful men who put in jeopardy every earthly good and even life itself, by the testimony which they bore to the Saviour's wonderful works, any worldly w interest in what they affirmed ?” Did they manifest any remarka. ble “ hesitation" in at once publicly testifying in the very place where the Son of God gave sight to the blind and life to the dead? Or, were they “ too violent in asseveration" when the people marvelled at their "boldness," and could not resist or gainsay their testimony ? In a word, do the witnesses of Christ's miracles belong to either of the classes described by the carping skeptic, as being incompetent to give evidence, and unworthy of credence ? Let reason and conscience give the answer.
There has been published within a few years, by a Mr. Flint, a small book, entitled “ The Art of Being Happy.". This book is not in our possession ; but we give an extract from its preface, at second-hand, not doubting that it has been correctly transcribed. The writer says :
“ The providence in which I believe, supposes no exceptions, infringements or violations of the universal plan of the divine government. Miracles only seem such to us, because we see but a link or two in the endless chain of that plan. An ingenions mechanician constructs a clock, which will run many years, and only once in the whole period strike an alarm-bell. It is a miracle to those who comprehend not that it was a part of the original plan of the mechanician. May we not with more prob10 Essay on Miracles,
11 1 Cor. xv. 6.
ability adopt the same reasoning, in relation to the recorded miracles, as a part of the original plan of the Eternal ?”
According to this rational view, which we most cordially adopt, without caring to know any thing of the man who gave it, God never departs from his " original plan," and never violates the laws of that nature which his own wis. dom has constituted. But miracles are such to us simply because of our inability to see all the links " in the endless chain of that plan.”
If it should here be objected that according to the views thus presented, miracles must be regarded as an appeal to our ignorance, we readily admit the fact. But is this a real objection ? Could there be a miracle to us, but for our ignorance? And such appeals are not very uncommon in the Scriptures. The Lord said to Job out of the whirlwind, “ Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth ? declare, if thou hast understand. ing. Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it ? Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened ? or who laid the corner. stone thereof ?" 12 Again, “ Canst thou by searching find out God ? canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection ?" 13 St. Paul also asks these significant questions, having reference to this very ignorance : “ For who hath known the mind of the Lord ? or who hath been his counsellor ?" 14 And in the same connection he assures us that God's judgments are unsearchable, and his ways past finding out. All these things are indeed appeals to our ignorance. And it is profitable for us to understand how little we do know. We are thus taught humility, and made to realize the necessity of asking wisdom of Him who giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not.
Christianity is not wholly a matter of intellectual con. viction. We walk by faith, not by sight. The great purpose for which the wonderful works of Christ have been written, has already been stated. We need hardly say that throughout the New Testament the utmost impor. tance is attached to faith in Christ the Son of God. This faith is declared to be the cause of salvation, and the power that gives true life to the soul of man. But
19 Job, xxxviii. 13 Ib. xi. 14 Romans, xi. 34.
surely it embraces something more than the conviction of the understanding that a distinguished personage, called Jesus of Nazareth, appeared in Judea about eighteen hundred years ago, and labored to reform the habits and to improve the moral condition of his countrymen ; but that in the benevolent endeavor to prosecute this work he lost his life. All this may be believed, and the heart of man still remain unblest with a saving and life-giving faith in the Son of God. The true Christian believes that Jesus was the Messiah, promised unto the fathers of his people—that he came into the world to teach us the way of duty, and to show unto us the paih of life—and that, having finished his work on earth, he returned to his Father and our Father, that he might thus inspire our souls with blessed and comforting hopes of our fuiure and immortal destiny. We are to look upon him as the likeness of the invisible God, and place him constantly before our minds as the great Mediator, when we bow in hum. ble devotion to the great Father of all spirits.
The faith of the true Christian, then, is not a cold and dry abstraction, with which the intellect alone is concerned ; but a living and operative principle, that works like leaven in the meal, until the brighi image of the Saviour is formed within. He draws the meat and drink of his spirit from this faith, and here finds the sustenance that gives vigor and strength to the inner man. He lives, not by bread alone-not by the mere productions of earth, and the gratification of animal appetites-but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God! And such is his confidence in the God of his salvation, and such the purity and blessings of his soul, that he is able to say, with the rejoicing apostle, “But though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” 15
The cross may be a stumbling-block to the unbelieving Jew, and foolishness to the wise Greek; but to those who feel and enjoy the power of the Christian faith, Christ is the wisdom of God and the power of God. The religion of Jesus Christ is God's highest gift to the world. Reader, let us cherish its faith and its hope as the comfort and support of the soul throughout life. And with hearts
152 Cor. iv. 16.
purified by the spirit of grace and truth, let us endeavor ever to walk worthily of the high vocation wherewith we have been called ; and happiness will attend us in life, and peace, the last end of the good man, will shed its holy charm over the spirit when flesh and heart shall fail in death.
he last and happinigh vo
The Intolerance of the Puritan Church of New England.
The Puritan Commonwealth. An Historical Review of the Puritan Government in Massachusetts, in its Civil and Ecclesiastical Relations, from its Rise to the Abrogation of the First Charter. Together with some General Reflections on the English Colonial Policy, and on the Character of Puritanism. By the late Peter Oliver, of the Suffolk Bar. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1856. 8vo. pp. 502.
It is not our purpose to enter upon a general review of the book before us. We wish to consider it only so far as it treats of the Intolerance of the Puritan Church of New England. To this topic Mr. Oliver has devoted a special chapter of his elaborate essay. But the whole work is an excessively severe and unsparing assault upon the Puritans. The author writes from a view the most hostile to them. He shows himself at the outset to be an adorer of prelacy and monarchy. In the first line of the book, Charles the First of England is called “the martyr," and the chapter closes with an invocation of our gentle thoughts for the memory of him who " was called upon to struggle for his crown over the tottering ramparts of the church." William of Orange is characterized as a " usurper," and Cromwell as " that hero of hypocrisy and treason, defying God and man." So intense are Mr. Oliver's prejudices against the Puritans, that they appear on every page in so undisguised a form as to put the reader at once upon his guard, and make him distrustful of the accuracy of his statements. But his facts