Зображення сторінки
[ocr errors]

more certain results. We find thereby that the use is fourfold.1

Firstly, The first signification of the expression onuelov is that it expresses a token, out of which something—that is, something not perceptible to the senses, or at the time not yet perceptible to them—should be deduced from it. The Apostle Paul gives the Church at Thessalonica a onuecov, that is, a token by which they should recognise the epistles really coming from him (2 Thess. iii. 17). It is in this sense that the phrases σημείοις των καιρών, from which the character of the present, and onuelov tñs mapovo las, from which the nearness of the decisive future, are to be taken. Thus, if the miracles of Jesus are called onueia, if they stand in the relation of tokens of the kingdom of God, they will in the first place be considered as tokens of the kingdom of heaven which is at hand.?

* By this we settle at the same time the question of the classification of miracles. We can here make no use of those classifications which have been made by the dogmatists,—as when Gerhard names them ‘miracula primativa and positiva,'—because we are only considering the miracles of Jesus; that of Cotta (that miracles may have happened 'naturam rerum immutando, quantitatem rerum augendo, qualitatem tollendo') has no real value. If others have distinguished between 'miracula naturæ' and ‘miracula gratiæ,' the conversion of St. Paul, given as an example of the latter, cannot convince us of the justness of the second class. Certainly we consider what took place on the road to Damascus as miraculous; but the miracle to us consists only in what appeared to the senses, in the dazzling light, in the clear voice, especially in the perceptible manifestation of the Lord. With regard to the effect, we cannot place that in the point of view of a miracle, just because the freedom of Saul had to concur in it. The attempt at division by Vitringa (Betrachtungen über d. Wunderwerke Jesu Christi, Einl. § vi.) is not worthy of consideration; that this grouping which is presented to us offers no very exact line of demarcation, stands to reason, because the boundary between the constitutive elements in the conception of a onuerov is a fleeting one. It naturally depends only on what in each single case is the most important relation.

2 Even in the Psalms, especially Ps. lxxiv. 9, the onpecia of Israel, and among them in particular the miracles of the Lord, are shown as the tokens of the government of God, and complaint is made that, instead of these tokens, others, the signs of the enemy, have occurred.

It may be concluded from this, that the troublous time, the time of oppression and of waiting, is past, —that He who should come has appeared, and with Him the acceptable year ;' the day of salvation has drawn near.

"The kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared' (Tit. iii. 4). The rays of this light which breaks forth in the miracles, certainly strike directly only the surface; but just so much the brighter do they shine as symptoms. Now this is exactly applicable to the miracles of Jesus. Those in the Old Testament have preponderatingly a punitive character. In the miracles of Moses, the divine indignation is poured out on the cowardice and unbelief of the people, as well as on the obduracy of Pharaoh. In the miracles of Elijah we observe the rushing of the 'wrath,' rather than the soft whispering of the breeze. Our Lord Himself, in rebuking the 'sons of thunder," spoke in reference to the miracles of the Old Testament. On the other hand, concerning His own miracles, He preached in the synagogue at Nazareth, that by virtue of their healing and relieving effects they were the tokens of the coming year of salvation; and in a similar sense, He bids John the Baptist draw from it the conclusion that the Messianic time had really come.

This is the proper place to acknowledge the germ of truth which lies in Schleiermacher's assertion, formerly mentioned, that Jesus used His power of work ing miracles, as opportunity offered, in doing good. If we do not object to speak of a benefit or even of an alms that our Lord has miraculously given, there is not wanting biblical authority for it. When Peter and John (Acts iii.) went up to the temple, the lame man asked for alms. Peter answered, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: in the name of Jesus Christ, rise up and walk.' That was his alms. Certainly we must guard ourselves from representing miracles thus conceived as expressions merely of an individual compassion, but must conceive them rather as proofs of the grace of God visibly appearing, so that they give us a presentiment of the 'fulness' which through Christ became “grace.' The remark is quite correct, that by far the greatest number of the miracles of Jesus may be judged as onueia in this sense. At the same time, there are only a few cases where this method of consideration would suit. In many others it will not suit.

i Luke x. 55.—TR.

However, in the expression onueiov there are also other important elements. As a second one, we meet with that of a symbol. The Apostle Paul writes (Rom. iv. 11) of Abraham, he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being uncircumcised.' In what sense has he called circumcision a onueiov? Are those expositors right, who understand this only as an external sign? (Bengel and Fritzsche: 'nota corpori indita ;' Philippi says: “the sign which Abraham bore on his body, by which he was distinguished from the uncircumcised.') Then would be taken away from us the value of the apostle's apposition, oppayida, etc. For a purely external sign, which would of itself be without any significance, can certainly not be a onuelov oʻpayiotikóv. Therefore the unavoidable supposition is, that the sign must be in the first place a symbol. We are directed to the symbolical signification of circumcision here so much the more, as the apostle has expressly brought it to view in the second chapter, vers. 28, 29. We have quoted these passages simply to establish the fact, that the use of the expression onueîov in the sense of a symbol is founded on the biblical use of the term, The express references of the evangelists, and especially of John, go to prove that, in fact, many miracles can be placed in this point of view; they cannot be conceived otherwise than as symbols of the treasures of the kingdom of heaven now opened.

They have in so far a relation to parables; for as a parable shows on earthly grounds the reflex of a higher truth, in order to serve as a means of explaining the latter, so a miracle which relieves an earthly pain is the symbol of the help within reach for a deeper need. Our Lord cures the sick of the palsy ; but the first words of the narrative point most expressly to a higher region. He gives sight to him that was born blind; but the concluding words of the history exclude the thought of a mere deed of compassion. Even the healings of the sick are evidently those miracles of Jesus which become conceivable in the relation we have pointed out to the kingdom of God. However, our Lord also performed other works which surpass ordinary therapeutic power, and which cannot be brought under either of these classes. Are there not in the expression onuelov some other elements ?

To find a third, we will again make use of an expression of the Apostle Paul. He writes to the Corinthian church (2 Cor. xii. 12): "The signs of an apostle were wrought in you.' As these onuela become individualized at the end of the verse into σημείοις, τέρασιν, και duvápeow, the expression in the former place must be understood in a wider sense than in the latter. There it can by no means signify a mere token, from which the Church should conclude that Paul must be more than a common teacher. But the 'onueia of an apostle' testify to him as an apostle, because only an apostle, and no other, was in a position to do the

(In a similar sense is the expression, the


While sepa

sign of the Son of man,' in Matt. xxiv. 30.) In the onuelov there is also the element of a witness, of the authenticated proof; the miracles of Jesus are consequently substantial witnesses of the power of the kingdom of heaven which has become active. The casting out of devils and the awakening from the dead are those which come under this point of view. It cannot be denied that both kinds of the miraculous working of our Lord can also be considered as mere tokens of the new time which had begun; but even the immediate impression of their magnitude raises them above the level of being simple signs. What is especially to be regarded of the casting out of devils, is the fact that they have been placed by the imniediate witnesses in a peculiarly high rank, as our Lord Himself has especially pointed out. rating them from His other miracles of curing, He assigns them an independent position beside them. See Luke xiii. 32: Behold, I cast out devils, and do cures; '—thus the casting out of devils is on one side (and primo loco), and the doing of cures' on the other. The same distinction, and in the same order, is found in Matt. viii. 16, “He cast out the spirits, and healed all that were sick;' as also, in the introduction to the instructions to the Twelve in Luke ix. 1, He gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases. Besides, whoever acknowledges that Christ 'was manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil' (1 John iii. 8), will be contented with no other way of considering them, than that they really testify in themselves to the powers of the kingdom of God which have become effective; as our Lord Himself has expressly stated (Matt. xii. 28): “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you.'

In the same way the raising of the dead may also

« НазадПродовжити »