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binding together the various classes of society fireside gathering may peace and joy and love by ties of mutual obligation in the bestowal be Christmas guests, and every good wish be and reception of kindnesses.
realized which we can frame for ourselves or All honour, then, we repeat, to our English for friends. method of celebrating this festival. At every
BY THE REV. S. WAINWRIGHT, VICAR OF HOLY TRINITY, YORK; AUTHOR OF
CHRISTIAN CERTAINTY," ETC.
we proceed, but this is quite sufficient to start
It may be asked, however, Wherein does the "Truth incontestable! in spite of all
miracle differ from the ordinary course of A Bayle has preached, or a Voltaire believed.” nature ? For that, too, is wonderful. The
YOUNG. fact that it is a marvel of continual recurrence IHAT is a miracle? A contradiction. may rob it of our admiration; we may be
An impossibility. A violation of the accustomed to regard it with a dull, incurious law of nature. Nature is a miracle. eye; yet, not the less on that account, does it
Everything is a miracle. There is remain a marvel still. no miracle. There cannot be a miracle. It To this question it has been replied that, would be a miracle if there were a miracle.
since all is thus marvellous-since the growing A strange tangle truly. And yet these are gross, the springing seed, the rising sun, are but a tithe of the contradictions so loudly and as much the result of powers which we cannot incessantly vociferated when we speak of the trace or measure, as the water turned into Christian miracles as attesting the claims of wine, or the sick healed by a word, or the Christianity. Let us examine them. They
They blind restored to vision by a touch--there is cannot all be true (without a miracle !) But therefore no such thing as a miracle, eminently is there any truth in any of them ?
so called. We have no right (it is said), in the Things done in a hurry are seldom done mighty and complex miracle of nature which well.” But it is in the highest degree desirable encircles us on every side, to separate arbithat our examination of this subject should be trarily a few facts, and say that these are "thorough." It should be thoroughly well wonders, and all the rest mere processes of done, because done once for all. The truth of nature. We must confine ourselves to one the Christian miracles is a foundation-truth; language or the other, and say either that all and we cannot always be relaying the founda
is miracle or none. tion. Nor can we submit to be liable to con- But this, however deep and true it mayat first tinual alarm for the safety of our superstruc. | sight seem, is, notwithstanding, most shallow ture, imperilled (according to the alarmists) by and fallacious. In itself, and in its purposes, the insecurity of our foundation. We will, there is abundantly sufficient to distinguish therefore, take measures to be thoroughly satis- the miraculous (so called) from the ordinary. fied on that head, once for all.
Nindeed that we can admit the distinction And, first, as to the meaning of the contro- sometimes made, that in the miracle God is verted word. Dr. Samuel Clarke defines a working immediately, while in other events He miracle to be “A work effected in a manner is leaving the work to the operation of the unusual, or different from the common and laws which He has established. For this disregular method of Providence, by the interpo- tinction has its root in a dead, mechanical view sition of God Himself, or of some intelligent of the universe, altogether opposed to the agent superior to man, for the proof or truth. The clockmaker makes his clock and evidence of some particular doctrine, or in leaves it; the shipbuilder launches his ship, attestation of the authority of some particular and others navigate it; but the world is no person.” Other definitions sball be noticed as mere piece of curious mechanism, to be dis.
missed from its Maker's hands as soon as it and personal significance. But the miracle, has been constructed, and only from time to claiming the special attention of those in time to be reviewed and repaired. Apart from whose sight it is wrought, speaks to them in that vital energy by which it is sustained, and particular. The voice which in nature speaks that active superintendence by which it is to all the world, now addresses itself directly governed, the world would at once sink not to them, and singles them out from the crowd. merely into that chaos, but even into that It is plain that God has now a peculiar word nothingness, from which it sprang. Without to which they are to give heed—a message to the constant operation of that parent Spirit which He is bidding them listen. who “renews the face of the earth,” all created There belongs, therefore, to the essence of things must “die and return to their dust."* miracle, an extraordinary Divine causality. The HE-none less, and none other, without pause unresting activity of God, which at other times and without cessation-still “upholdeth all hides and conceals itself behind the veil of things by the word of His power.”+ And thus what we term natural laws, is in the miracle He speaks, "My Father worketh hitherto, and unveiled. It steps out from its concealment, I work.”! And to speak of " laws of nature,” and the hand which works is laid bare. Beand even “laws of God” (in the same sense), is side and beyond the ordinary operations of to surrender ourselves to an illusion of lan. nature,* higher powers intrude and make guage, and to hide the real verity from our own themselves felt; higher, not as coming from eyes. Laws of God exist only for us. But, a higher source, but as bearing upon higher viewed in relation to Himself, all His laws are ends. simply the expression of His Will. Augustine Yet while thus affirming it to be of the very was right: “It is the will of God that consti, essence of a miracle that it should be "a ner tutes the nature of things." Each “ law of thing in the earth,” we may not overlook the Nature” is merely what we have learned con- fact that the natural itself may become miracu. cerning His Will in that particular region of lous to us, by the way in which it is timed, or its activity. To say, then, that there is more of the ends which it is made to serve. There the will of God in a miracle than in any other may be in it so remarkable a convergence of work of His is incorrect. Shall we attempt to many unconnected causes to a single end; it magnify the miracle, as a manifestation of the may so meet a crisis in the lives of men, or in presence and power of God, by depreciating the onward march of the kingdom of God, that, that manifestation which is furnished in the while plainly deducible from natural causes, ordinary processes of nature? By no means. we may be justified in terming it a-providenAll is wonder. To make a man is at least as tial, though not an absolute-miracle. In great a marvel as to raise a man from the other words, the natural may be lifted up into dead. The seed that multiplies in the furrow the miraculous, either by a peculiarity in the is as marvellous as the bread that multiplied time of its occurrence, or by the purposes in Christ's hands. Wherein, then, lies the dif. which it is made to fulfil. It thus becomes & ference? In this: the difference of manifesta- “wonder” for us, when not a wonder in itself tion.
-a subjective, though not an objective miracle. The miracle is not a GREATER manifestation For example: there was nothing miraculous of God's power than those ordinary and ever- in the simple fact that swarms of flies should repeated processes; but it is a DIFFERENT infest the houses of the Egyptians, or that manifestation.
flights of locusts should strip their fields, or By those, God is speaking to all men, always, that a murrain should destroy their cattle. and everywhere. They are a vast revelation But the occurrence of all these plagues, their of Him. “The invisible things of Him are intensity, the manner and order of their suc. clearly seen, being understood by the things cession, their close connexion with the word of that are made, even His eternal power and Moses which foretold them; with Pharaoh's Godhead." || Yet this language, from its trial, then proceeding; with Israel's deliververy vastness and universality, may miss its ance, then approaching ; their sudden and aim. It has no speciality. It lacks peculiar extra-natural disappearance, not less than
their unavoidable infliction,—these are the par. * Ps. civ. 29, 30.
John. v. 17. " De Civitate Dei," 21, 8; “Dei voluntas natura rerum . But not opposed to them. In the language of the greatest
theologians, prater naturam, and super naturam, but never | Rom. i. 20.
+ Heb. i. 3.
ticulars which procured for them their Scrip- we must say--God acts upon the world as a tural designation of "the signs and wonders whole immediately; but on each part, only by of Egypt."*
."* It is no absolute miracle to find means of His action on every other part; that a coin in a fish's mouth, or that a lion should is to say, by the laws of nature.” * meet a man and slay him, I or that a thunder- Such is Dr. Strauss's statement of those storm should happen at an unusual period of ripe results of German metaphysics by which the year.§ Yet these circumstances may be so its able and laborious professors have tied up timed for strengthening faith, for punishing the hands of the Most High God Himself, and disobedience, for awakening repentance; they reasoned away all His power ever to work a may serve such high moral purposes in God's miracle again. Their decree is just as absolute, moral government, that we at once, and justly, and more severe, than that procured by the range them in the catalogue of miracles with- Persian satraps; and if Daniel were sentenced out waiting for a minute discrimination be- a second time to the den of lions, neither God tween the miracle absolute and the miracle nor angel could be suffered to interfere for his providential. Especially have such events a deliverance. The reasoning which achieves right to their place among miracles strictly so this mighty result is so ambitious as to grasp called, when, as in each of the forementioned the whole universe, and the vast circle of "the instances, the final event is the seal of a Divine whole totality of finite things.” message; for then they claim that place as pro- Without daring to follow it in this lofty phecy, i. e., as miracles of foreknowledge if not flight, let us try its consistency in an easier as miracles of power.||
form, just as astronomers work out the law To all this, however, the enemies of Chris- of gravitation in the problem of two and three tianity have a very short answer. Despising all bodies. Let A, B, C, stand for three parts, definitions and deriding all distinctions, they which compose the whole universe. Now the pertinaciously assert that “all miracles are theory is this: that God acts on A, only impossible.” And thus they pretend to prove through the medium of His action on B and C.; it :
on B, only through His action on A and C; “Our modern world, after centuries of re. and on C, only by his action on A and B. search, has attained a conviction that all things Every one of the three is further from Him are linked together by a chain of causes and than the two others, since He acts on it only effects which suffer no interruption. The through the medium of His action upon them. totality of finite things forms a vast circle, Or, to vary the illustration : there are three which, except that it owes its existence and individuals, the first in succession of our race laws to a superior power, suffers no intrusion --Adam, Cain, and Enoch. We wish to from without. This conviction is so much a account for their existence, without the adhabit of thought in the modern world, that in mission that all were created—which is fanatiactual life the belief in immediate Divine cal-or that one was created, and the others agency is at once attributed to ignorance or derived from him by natural generationimposture. .... The proposition that God which is both fanatical and partial. So we acts sometimes mediately, and sometimes invent the ingenious hypothesis that each of immediately, upon the world, introduces a them is both grandfather and father to the changeableness, and therefore a temporal two others. All the three are thus immediately element into the nature of His action. Now, from the band of God; but each one of them since our idea of God requires an immediate, is from Him only by his being son and grandand our idea of the world a mediate, Divine : son with two others. Archimedes said, “ Give operation, and since the idea of combination me a fulcrum, and I will move the earth;" of the two spheres of action is inadmissible, and verily these German metaphysicians have nothing remains for us but to regard them found out a singular fulcrum whereby to uproot both as so permanently and immoveably united, the Gospel from its foundations in real history that this operation is for ever and everywhere and consign it for ever to the land of dreams. twofold, both mediate and immediate; so that Here, for the present, however, we must
* Psalm lxxviii. 43; Acts. vii. 36. Matt. xvii. 27. pause. I 1 Kings xiii. 24.
1 Sam. xii. 16, 29. #Archbishop Treneh's “Notes on the Miracles of our "Leben Jesu;” vol. i., pp. 71-73. Lord." Preliminary Essay, p. 14.
+ Rev. T. R. Birks' " Modern Rationalism," pp. 14--17.
Pleasant Readings for our Sons and Daughters. .
I MAKE TO YOURSELVES FRIENDS."
A STORY FOR THE CHRISTMAS HEARTH.
BY MRS. HARRIET BEECHER STOWE.
T was four o'clock in the afternoon of “Well,” said John, after he had taken several
a dull winter day, that John bills from the pocket-book, and transferred sat in his counting-room. The sun them to a wallet which he put into his pocket,
had nearly gone down, and in fact it "now, we're ready, my boy.” But first he was already twilight beneath the shadows of stopped to lock up his desk, and then he said, the tall, dusky stores, and the close, crooked abstractedly to himself, “I wonder if I hadn't streets of that quarter of Boston. Hardly better take a few tracts.". light enough struggled through the dusky Now, it is to be confessed that this John panes of the counting-house for John to read whom we have introduced to our reader, was the entries in a much-thumbed memorandum- in his way quite an oddity. He had a number book, which he held in his hand.
of singular little penchants and peculiarities A small, thin boy, with a pale face and quite his own-such as a passion for poking anxious expression, significant of delicacy of among dark alleys, at all sorts of seasonable constitution and a too early acquaintance with and unseasonable hours; fishing out troops of want and sorrow, was standing by him, ear- dirty, neglected children; and fussing about nestly watching his motions.
generally in the community, till he could get “Ah, yes, my boy,” said John, as he at last them into schools or otherwise provided for. shut up the momorandum-book. “Yes, I've He always had in his pocket-book a note of found the place now; I'm apt to be forgetful
widows who wanted tea, about these things; come, now,
How sugar, or candles, or other things, such as poor is it? haven't you brought the basket?” widows always will be wanting. And then he
“No, sir," said the boy, timidly. “The had a most extraordinary talent for finding out grocer said he'd let mother have a quarter for all the sick strangers that lay in out-of-the-way it, and she thought she'd sell it.”
upper rooms in hotels, who, everybody knows, “ That's bad,” said John, as he went on, have no business to get sick in such places, untying his throat with a long comforter of some less they have money enough to pay their exyards in extent; and as he continued this penses, which they never do. operation he abstractedly repeated, “That's Besides this, all John's kinsmen and cousins, bad, that's bad,” till the poor little boy looked to the third, fourth, and fortieth remove, were quite dismayed, and began to think that some- always writing him letters, which, among other how his mother had been dreadfully out of the pleasing items, generally contained the inway.
telligence that a few hundred dollars was jast "She didn't want to send for help so long then exceedingly, necessary to save them from as she had anything she could sell,” said the utter ruin, and they knew of nobody else to little boy, in a deprecating tone.
whom to look for it. "Oh, yes, quite right,” said John, taking And then John was up to his throat in subfrom a pigeon hole in the desk a large pocket. scriptions to every charitable society-had a book, and beginning to turn it over; and, as hand in building all the churches within & before, abstractedly repeating, “Quite right! hundred miles; occasionally gave four or five quite right !” till the little boy became re- thousand dollars to a college; offered to be one assured, and began to think, although he didn't of six to raise ten thousand dollars for some know why, that his mother had done something benevolent purpose; and when four of the six quite meritorious,
backed out, quietly paid, the balance himself,
and said no more about it. Another of his rule in medicine as well as morals, that what innocent fancies was, to keep always about is in a man must be brought out. Then, again him any quantity of tracts and good books, John had heard it reported, that there had little and big, for children and grown-up been one of distinguished authority who had people, which he generally diffused in a kind | expressed the opinion that it was “more blessed of gentle shower about him wherever he to give than receive," and he very much believed moved.
it-believed it, because the One who said it So great was his monomania for benevolence, must have known, since for man's sake He tbat it could not at all confine itself to the
once gave away ALL. streets of Boston, the circle of his relatives, or And so when some thriftless, distant relative, even the United States of America. John whose debts John had paid a dozen times over, was fully posted up in the affairs of
gave him an overhauling on the subject of India, Burmah, China, and all those odd out- liberality, and seemed inclined to take him by of-the-way places, which no sensible man ever the throat for further charity, John calmed thinks of with any interest, unless he can himself down by a chapter or two from the make some money there ; and money, it is to New Testament, and then sent him a good be confessed, John didn't make there, though brotherly letter of admonition and counsel, he spent an abundance. For getting up print- with a bank note to enforce it; and when some ing-presses in Ceylon, for Chinese type, for querulous old woman, who had had a tenement boxes of clothing and what-not to be sent of him rent free for three or four years, sent to the Sandwich Islands, for school-books him word that if he didn't send and mend the for the Greeks, John was without a parallel. / waterpipes she would move right out, John No wonder his rich brother merchants some. sent and mended them. People said he was times thought him something of a bore, since, foolish, and that it didn't do any good to do his heart being full of all these matters, he for ungrateful people, but John knew that it was rather apt to talk about them, and some- did him good; he loved to do it, and he thought times to endeavour to draw them into fellow. also on some words that ran to this effect, "Do ship, to an extent that was not to be thought good and lend, hoping for nothing again.” John
literally hoped for nothing again in the way of So it came to pass often, that though John reward, either in this world or in Heaven, was a thriving business man, with some ten beyond the present pleasure of the deed; for thousand a year, he often wore a pretty thread- he had abundant occasion to see how favours bare coat, the seams whereof would be trimmed are forgotten in this world; and as for another, with lines of wbite, and he would sometimes he had in his own soul a standard of benevoneed several pretty plain hints on the subject lence so high, so pure, so ethereal, that but One of a new hat before he would think he could of mortal birth ever reached it. John felt that afford one. Now, it is to be confessed the do what he might, he fell ever so far below the world is not always grateful to those who thus life of that spotless One, that his crown in devote themselves to its interests, and John Heaven must come to him at last, not as a had as much occasion to know this as many reward, but as a free eternal gift. another man. People got so used to John's But all this while our friend and his little giving, that his bounty became as common companion have been pattering along the wet and as necessary as that of a higher Bene- streets, in the rain and sleet of a bitter cold factor, “who maketh His sun to rise upon the evening, till they stopped before a grocery. evil and the good, and sendeth rain upon the Here a large cross-handled basket was first just and the unjust;" and so it came to pass bought, and then filled with sundry packages that people took them as they do the sunshine of tea, sugar, candles, soap, starch, and various and the rain, quite as matters of course,-not other matters; a barrel of four was ordered thinking much about them when they came, to be sent after him on a dray. John next but particularly apt to scold when they did not. stopped at the dry goods store and bought a
But John never cared for that. He didn't pair of blankets, with which be loaded down give for gratitude; he did not give for thanks, the boy, who was happy enough to be so loaded; nor to have his name published in the papers and then, turning gradually from the more as one of six who had given fifty thousand to frequented streets, the two were soon lost to do so and so; but he gave becanse it was in his view in one of the dimmest alleys of the city. heart to give, and we all know it is an old The cheerful fire was blazing in John's