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settled by theologians. Some have esteemed it very high, others lower; but there have also not been wanting some who will not grant it any value. Buddeus has taken a very extreme view, for he declares : 'Non modo religionis christianæ veritatem, sed et numinis existentiam valide ex miraculis demonstrari posse.' On the other hand, Joh. Gerhard is by no means inclined to raise such a claim for them. This theologian (who has devoted only a very cursory discussion to the part 'de miraculis' in his Locus de notis ecclesiæ, xxiii. 11) gives the well-known propositions: ‘Per miracula non possunt probari oracula,' and, ‘Miracula, si non habent doctrinæ veritatem conjunctam, nihil probant.' And he calls attention apart from the dictum probans (Deut. xiii. 1) to the circumstance that miracles can be also performed by the devil," by heathens, and by heretics. His intention was certainly not to deny all power of convincing to miracles; he expressly guards himself from saying that ‘miracula nihil probare.' He only demands that there should be the most accurate valuation of it in the doctrine: Miracula sunt doctrinæ tesseræ et sigilla ; quemadmodum igitur sigillum literis avulsum nihil probat, ita quoque miracula sine doctrina nihil valent;' miracula fuerunt buccinæ et præcones quibus evangelium primitiis commendabatur. It was, however, evidently quite in this sense that Höpfner lays down the canon: ‘Fides semper magis niti debet verbo et sacramento, quam miraculis.' To him the miracle is of secondary importance, perhaps even a subordinate affair; and he has so little evaded the circle in which, with this standpoint, he must move, that he rather cites with approval the assertion of Theophylact : 'Prædicatio per miracula confirmatur miracula autem per prædicationem.”
1 Gerhard passes over this fact naturally in a totally different sense, and for quite other ends than was done by Spinoza, as well as modern theologians (Schleiermacher, Glaubenslehre, i. p. 101). Rothe (Zur Dogm. 110) and Twesten (Dogmatik, i. p. 366), by simply recalling the passage in Matt. xii. 24, have shown with what injustice these writers have raised the reproach expressed against the apologetical value of miracles. A sword which is despised as quite blunt and unsuitable, and which one is ashamed to wear, should not be sharpened for a momentary use.
, The importance of miracles has always been recognised in the Lutheran dogmatics. It was universally taught that 'finem miraculi esse, ut agnoscatur et confirmatur veritas coelestis. However, its immediate power was gradually remarkably weakened. The circumstance is noteworthy, that this doctrine was more and more removed from the locus de revelatione, and referred to that de munere Christi triplici. In the explanation of miracles, the conception of them was always to be found in the first place, the apologetical side in the last.' In modern times, the possibility of proving miracles has been resolutely opposed. Schleiermacher, while calling attention to some witnesses in Scripture, is the chief spokesman (as is known in this direction (Glaubenslehre, i. p. 100 and following): "The delusion seems everywhere more and more to have prevailed, that the efficacy of these circumstances has somehow always supposed faith as existing, and therefore they cannot have produced it.' The characteristic expressions, 'seems' and 'somehow,' should be noted. But in this he is followed by others. M. Baumgarten (Geschichte Jesu, p. 168 and following), basing his argument on certain passages of the Bible detached from their context, guards himself against an unjust underestimation of miracles for apologetical ends; however, on the same doubtful supports, he also earnestly warns against an over-estimation of them. Rothe even (Zur Dogm. 111) candidly declares: ''I place the apologetical importance of miracles quite in the background; in our days it is of very little weight.'
1 It is not that the power of our Lord's working miracles was immediately subordinated as a constitutive element to the 'munus propheticum,' as soon as it had received an assured place in the locus de officio Christi (which, by the way, did not happen early—even Gerhard evidently delayed it). Scattered traces of this are to be found even in older expositions (thus Brochmann, in his Systema Theologia, 1633, reckons as part of the prophetical office of Christ : Quod stupendis, omnemque finitam potentiam excedentibus operibus doctrinam confirmavit'); but Gerhard and his followers place this office only in the functio docendi under especial stress on the efficacia doctrinæ. In the first place, Buddeus teaches expressly: • Miraculis insuper Jesus doctrinam suam confirmavit; quæ quum propria virtute ederet, iis pondus doctrinæ suæ addidit, eamque ita comparatam esse ostendit, ut de divina ejus origine et veritate nemini dubitare fas sit.' The editor of the theses of Buddeus, De Atheismo, Lutofs, seeks to mediate between him and Gerhard, and proposes the formula: Miracula non probant veritatem doctrinæ, sed divinam missionem eorum, qui istius doctrinæ fuerunt præcones.'
Why should this be? Why must it be so? And why especially in our days ? It is perhaps that, in favourable cases, miracles are only of importance for the 'fides humana,' while the 'fides divina' must be thoroughly grounded on the testimonium Spiritus sancti.' We can conceive that they may be kept separate the one from the other; but in reality, the one depends closely on the other. Where the grounds of reason do
hand in hand with the faith of the heart, there is then wanting the peace of deep conviction — there are conflicts in view which may lead to a fatal breach. Or is it, that even the 'fides humana' in the miracles has only a rotten support, for which moreover a rich compensation is offered in means of proof in some other manner? A rotten support! In how far is it
The principal ground on which the integrity of Schleiermacher's character as a theologian has appeared doubtful to many, is that he, although, as is known to every one, conscious of other grounds, did not scruple to support himself on specious arguments from Scripture. In the present case he calls attention to the fact that our Lord repeatedly forbade His miracles to be published abroad. Any one acquainted with Scripture would know that Christ as often expressed a prohibition that one should tell no one that He was the Christ.' Schleiermacher might find a difficulty in drawing from this last the inferences which he had from
So weak? It is quite an erroneous assertion of Schleiermacher, that miracles can only be of service in the case of the immediate perception of them; and on the other hand, that they lose their power according to the ratio of distance in time and space. For there is absolutely no real difference between one which we saw with our own eyes, and one in a credible trustworthy report.
Here and there the operatio Dei' is in like manner 'in sensus incurrens.' Just as one can mistrust the report, so can one also distrust one's own eyes. The right or the wrong is in both cases sufficiently similar. And the rich compensation ? In what does it consist? mistrustful even beforehand of a compensation for an 'adminiculum fidei' given of God, particularly when it is so opportunely offered to us and urged on us by the hands of Lessing.
It is only a new manner of expressing the wellknown proposition of the latter, when Schleiermacher continues: “What in our day takes the place of miracles, is the historical account of the condition, extent, and duration of the spiritual operations of Christ.' Without estimating the value of this boasted new proof, or wishing to suspect it in and on account of itself, we at any rate dispute its title to hold the dignity of a compensation for that which it has taken away from
It would indeed be a strange thing to endeavour to restrict to contemporaries the measure of St. John's words (John xii. 37), “Though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him,' or that of the similar complaint of our Lord Himself (John xv. 24); and to consider the simple conclusion of the man who was born blind, who had been healed (John ix. 33), “If this man were not of God, he could do nothing,' as binding only on those then present. But it is more than strange when these assertions are maintained in the face of the declaration of the evangelist: these (that is, the signs) are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ' (John XX. 31). Γέγραπται is the word used. Now John must then have been of opinion that the miracles of Jesus written of by him have the same power of conviction for his readers, and indeed for all readers, even to the latest times, as, when seen, they had for the immediate witnesses. Even 'if, as we are assured, we had other means to attain faith, we should in no way be recompensed for the loss of this proof. This theory of compensation generally rests on a delusion which is easily proved. Let us look narrowly at the supposition, that though at one time miracles were of an irreparable importance, at the present they have none. If this means, that formerly it was necessary that miracles should happen, while now there is no necessity for them, there is no dispute on the subject. This has not only been granted, but expressly affirmed. Augustine (de Civitate Dei, c. 22): “Quisquis adhuc prodigia, ut credat, requirit, magnum est ipse prodigium, qui mundo credente non credit.' Of a similar opinion is Chrysostom in his Homiliæ 13 in Joann. Höpfner says : ‘Miracula sunt veritatis coelestis signa, sed temporaria, non perpetua, et ad fundationem ecclesiæ necessaria ; doctrinâ confirmatâ iis non amplius opus est.' Gerhard observes : Nequaquam Christus generalem promissionem dedit, quod miracula etiam post
1 Our experience has lately given most striking confirmation to this. Whoever has read the work of Renan will be reminded of the author's acknowledgment, that he would by no means recognise a miracle, even if his own eyes had beheld it. On page 36 of the French edition can be seen what other sort of proofs he considers necessary. Weisse also declares, ' I should not trust my eyes if I saw a supernatural miracle pass before them.' Well, stat pro ratione voluntas. But then would be accomplished the saying of S. J. Baumgarten (Untersuchung. Theol. Streit. i. p. 661), that it would be that all history must completely give up every historical proof, and even the certainty of the senses and of experience.