Зображення сторінки

prædicationem evangelii in mundo receptam ordinarie et perpetuo in ecclesia vigere debeant. If, however, it means that once the interposition of miracles was needed for faith in the revelation of God, while now the necessity has passed away, the assertion intended in this sense cannot harmonize with the acknowledgment, as strongly asserted, that a miracle is a constitutive element of revelation. How can I sincerely believe a revelation, if a constitutive element' of it, and that the very one ' by which God is revealed to the purblind eye,' is to be cast aside ?1

We therefore consider the apologetical value of miracles considerably higher than is granted to them by the public opinion of modern theology. The interest which we maintain for them is higher than the mere historical one ; they must be available for other services to us, than only to bridge over the 'yawning chasm of the history of the world.' But we repeat it, this is not at present our purpose. The question is rather this: What and how much is gained when the miracles of Jesus have, in the sense indicated, been brought into the light of probability ? We believe that something considerable is thereby gained. The fact has been proved in the cases of Rothe,, of Schleiermacher, and even in others of earlier times, that there are numerous minds which may find a stumbling-block in the miracles of Jesus, without on that account being specially incredulous of a divine revelation. In consideration of this fact, Rothe (here completely agreeing with Weisse) warns us that we must not altogether alienate from the Christian faith the present generation, by exacting from them an acknowledgment of the biblical miracles. No one will deny the justice of the problem which this much respected man has proposed to the Church of the present, to win back those who are estranged from it, even though many may not agree to the manner and way in which he has lately formulated it at the Protestantentag' at Eisenach. But the great question is, whether it can in any way be furthered by the purely negative proceeding of dispensing the heretical self-will from accepting miracles. The saying, 'I will not force on you the belief in miracles,' is on that account a hazardous one, because the supposition in reality nowhere occurs, that the light of revelation appears in other things to minds offended at miracles, that Christian ideas have sprung up in them, that they in the light of this sun have entered into life.' If we must always put aside everything against which one has an instinctive perception,' how much of Christianity, and what sort of Christianity, would remain ?

1 Notwithstanding our best endeavours, we have been unable to understand the distinction made by Rothe (Zur Dogm. p. 80): “The question is not by what we now could recognise a miracle as such ; but it is asked, by what could a revelation when it happened have been evident as a revelation to those to whom it was immediately addressed ?' How am I to begin to accept miracles as mere historical occurrences, if when they happened they were expressly and exclusively intended to make the revelation evident as such ? Then should I indeed separate what God has joined together.

2 If they had not this higher significance, how is it to be explained that attempts are made with such untiring persistency to do away with them, from the most varied points of view, and by means of the most manifold manoeuvres? They must certainly belong to those things which are most uncomfortable for polemics.

Even Strauss himself does not wish to take Christianity away from the present generation ;? but he only wished to purify it from the transient representations of the time; and he assures us that, after the taking away of these elements, there really is still something, and that not a little,' of it left (Die Halben und die Ganzen, p. 128). Not a little ?

For religious need there remains just so much, that is as extremely little as his criticism from the historical side has left of what really constitutes the life of Jesus. At any rate, not an atom remains of that which the Apostle Paul calls his gospel, besides which there can be no other, even though an angel from heaven should announce it, — not an atom of that gospel which has overcome the world.

1 When the above was written Strauss was an Hegelian ; he has, however, since become a Materialist, and his antipathy to Christianity, as evinced in his Old and New Faith, has increased.-T.

It is an indubitably just saying, “Beneficia non obtruduntur.' But in the question before us it cannot be used otherwise than in the comprehensive sense, that the most comprehensive benefit, the gospel, is to be obtruded on no one.

The Church has neither the power nor the right, either tacitly or expressly, to dispense from the acceptation of any truth which it acknowledges. Apart from the disloyalty of it, we would deny its wisdom. Thus, even though we wish to take into consideration the fact that the miracles of Jesus in the evangelical history are at present a stumblingblock to many, our present path must be a different one.

We do not suffer, we do not counsel that they should be placed on one side; but we seek rather to construct a heartfelt upright reconciliation with them, and for this end we will strive to place them in the light of probability. We may assert that in some such sense the ancient Church itself pursued the same end and the same path. There was not the slightest necessity for the early Christian apologists to prove the historical certainty of the miracles of Jesus, as they were not attacked even by a Celsus. They had, however, to illustrate the intrinsic character of these deeds of our Lord, and to defend them from false suspicions ; they had to show their difference from the workings of magicians, and especially the harmony in which they stand with the faith of Christians.

1 We recommend for comparison the detailed communications of Baur in his Dogmengeschichte, Leip. 1865, Pt. i. p. 352 and foll.

Our problem is, as we have now repeatedly shown, a double one. The one is of a general, the other of a special nature. We have first to show in particular the probability of Jesus working miracles; and then the probability of each single miracle which, according to the reports of the evangelists, was performed by our Lord.



It is evident that the question, whether it is conceivable and probable that our Lord should manifest a power of working miracles, stands in close connection with the presuppositions held regarding His person. Whoever considers Jesus nothing but a man, although a pattern of the human ideal,' must also consider the actual miracles which He is said to have wrought as improbable, incomprehensible, and impossible; and according to the view he takes of the original narratives, he will either go the way of rationalism, or—if he holds a perfectly free position with regard to their sources—will continue his path unimpeded to a complete denial of them. Strauss could only find it comprehensible, and at the same time really probable, that Jesus, by exciting the imagination, may have effected cures which bore in them the appearance of the miraculous : ‘Sufferers regularly crowded upon him in order to touch his garments, because they expected to be cured by doing so. And it would have been strange indeed, if there had been no cases among all these in which the force of excited imagination, and impressions half spiritual, half sensuous, produced either actual removal or temporary mitigation of their complaints; and this effect was ascribed to the miraculous power of Jesus' (Leben Jesu, 266 ; Eng. trans. i. 365).

Miracles in this sense, according to the mode of thought of the period, and of his contemporaries, he

« НазадПродовжити »