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All this may be, I believe it is, in the true line of advance; but perhaps there has been something too much of it. And assuredly the change is not a wholesome one when it leads us to lay so much emphasis on the teaching of our Lord as that we come to forget, or question, or deny the force and value of those supernatural works which were a natural result of the Divine energies which dwelt in Him. To pitch the cargo overboard will, indeed, lighten any ship; but it may also make it ride so high as that it will endure no after storm ; and what if, when it does reach the haven, we find that little or nothing of value is left in it ? Sceptics of a certain school are forward to compliment the morality of Christ at the expense of his miracles; and, perhaps, with a view to conciliate them and to secure a hearing for Christian truth, we are somewhat too ready to put the question of miracles out of our thoughts, and to insist mainly, if not solely, on the beauty and completeness and spirituality of his teaching and commandments. But have we duly considered what a Christ who wrought no miracle would be to us? and what use those same sceptics would be likely to make of the admission, should any considerable section of the Church ever admit, that the Christian miracles were a late and incredible addition to the New Testament records ? Would they not pounce on the admission with eager delight, and forth with proceed to reduce Christ to the level of other wise men, or men of genius, or even below the highest level of manhood ? Might they not reasonably reproach us with the worship we render Him; or even demand how we can hope that any mere man, however gifted, should prove to be the Saviour and Lord of the entire race ?
And we—what should we not lose ? If Christ Himself did not become a dubious historical figure to us, if even his moral teaching did not become uncertain and questionable, we must at least lose both our faith in Him as Son of God, and our hope in Him as Son of Man. For how should the Son of God be in the world, and never do any such creative or restorative work as the Father is ever doing? And if the Son of Man had not power over the phenomenal world, the realm and sequences of Nature, how can we any longer hope that He will restore to us, and to the race at large, that dominion over all the works of God's hands which we feel to be our birthright, and which seems to be the inevitable pre-requisite of spiritual life in its highest and most permanent forms ?
Let us remember, then, that Christ Himself saw a moral and spiritual value in the mighty works He wrought in the cities of Galilee ; that He even claimed to be believed, if not for his own sake or for the truths He taught, yet for his very works' sake. Let us en
deavour, for once, to achieve a feat very difficult to our mental weakness,—that of holding two distinct but complementary thoughts in our minds at one and the same time. The modern set of opinion in the Church, the tendency to subordinate the miracles of Christ to his teaching, is a very healthy one if we do not so far yield to it as to doubt whether those miracles had any moral or religious value to the men who witnessed them, as also, in a lessened degree, for us who do but read of them. To them the mighty works brought that sense of the presence and activity of God which induces, or ought to induce, repentance ; and to us they are of value as shewing that God was once in the world, and that He who was once visibly in the world is always in it and always at work in it, to heal our diseases, to minister to our needs, to quicken us to life everlasting. They feelingly persuade us that Christ was in very deed the Son of the Father; they animate us with the hope that, through the perfect Son of Man, we shall become lords of ourselves and of this lower world, reigning together with Him by whom we have been redeemed.
But behind this difficulty of the miracles, and of the way in which we are to regard them, and the value we are to set upon them, there rises a question still more difficult and perplexing. The man Christ Jesus obviously thought highly of his mighty works, and of their power to open and impress the human heart. In his mind they were not only the great bell of the universe ringing in the world to listen to the sermon He had to preach, but also a part of the sermon itself, and even a very effectual part. He was quite sure that if they had been done in Sodom, and Tyre, and Sidon, these great cities would have repented and remained; and yet Sodom was a synonym for the most utter and bestial corruption, while Tyre and Sidon were among the most flagrantly sensual and vicious communities of the ancient world. Now how those who hold that Christ possessed only human faculties interpret this claim of his to know what men who lived two thousand years before Him would have done had their conditions been other than they were ; how they explain the fact that He, the most sane, the most modest and unassuming of men, assumed to compare Sodom with Capernaum, Chorazin and Bethsaida with Tyre and Sidon, and to pronounce the wickedest races of heathen antiquity more susceptible to the influences of the unseen spiritual world than the sons of the elect Israel, it is not for me to say; but to me, I confess, this seems to be a monstrous and incredible assumption, at variance with all we know of Him, unless He were what He claimed to be, the Son of God.
Son of God, or Son of Man, He claims to know that the men of Sodom and of Tyre and Sidon would not have resisted the influences which failed to bring the men of Galilee to repentance and life; and so the question returns upon us, and must no longer be evaded : If these ancient sinners would have repented unto life had the mighty works of Christ been done in their streets, why were they not done ?
One answer to this grave question is a very obvious one, and is obviously true so far as it goes. For it is manifest that if God were to come and dwell with men, He could only come once in the history of the world. He could not be for ever coming. There could not be an advent, an incarnation, a life illustrated by mighty works, in every generation, among every race, or the operations of law would have been superseded by a constant miracle or a miracle constantly repeated. And we know so little of the course and order of the world that we cannot venture to say what would have been the best and most fitting time for the manifestation of the Son of God; we are compelled to assume that He, to whom the whole course of time is open and present, chose the fitting conjuncture, that it was, as the Bible affirms, in the very fulness of times that He sent his Son into the world. But if the time of Capernaum, and Chorazin, and Bethsaida was the due and fitting time for this supreme disclosure of the Divine Love and Grace, then obviously