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eral to the main action of the drama. Let the truth, and reality of this be admitted, and these will follow of course, as the shadow pursues the substance. To expect the introduction of a revelation, in our apprehension of the term, among men, unattended by these counter-workings of human nature, were hardly more reasonable than to expect to produce motion without friction.
Mr. Furness would, we suppose, regard the case of Peter walking on the water, as exemplifying what we denominate the secondary operation of faith, its exertion outwardly. His language is, "The walking upon the water was not an infraction of the laws of nature, but a demonstration of the natural sovereignty of mind, that spiritual power, upon which the mighty law of gravitation is, in the nature of things, dependent, and to which it must, of course, be subordinate." This language strikes us as not a little extraordinary, and we are not sure that we rightly apprehend its import. If by "spiritual power" is intended the power of the infinite spirit, the power of God, the statement is doubtless true; but we cannot perceive its pertinency. It accords with our system, but not with his; and we are, therefore, constrained to regard the expression as referring to the spirit of man, to the inherent energy of the human soul. It is manifest, whatever import we are to assign to particular phrases, that Mr. Furness supposes, that Peter was sustained on the water by the power of faith, the natural and inherent powers of faith, of course,
any extraordinary and mysterious power peculiar to the person or the occasion; but just such a power as any man, and every man, in whom the sentiment of faith is developed, and in proportion to its developement, may exert at his will.
The statement amounts to this, or it amounts to nothing. And now we ask, can this be true? Can any rational man believe, that men,—all men,- are naturally endowed with the power of suspending, at will, the law of gravitation, either in their own bodies, or in others? Is it in the power of all men, or of any man, to walk on the surface of the water? or to throw himself, with impunity, from a precipice, buoyed up by the power of faith? If it be so, how happens it that the practice has not been continued, or the experiment repeated, at least? Or will it be said, that this is the attainment of faith only in its higher degrees, and more perfect developement? Was, then, the faith of Peter so much clearer, stronger, and
more efficient than that of any man who has since lived? There is nothing in the tenor of his history to countenance such an opinion, but much of an opposite complexion.
The law of gravitation is perfectly well ascertained, and known to be universal. We cannot even conceive of matter as divested of this property. The body of Peter, like all other bodies, was made in accordance with this law, and by this law must necessarily have sunk in the water. Otherwise, it were perfectly rational, on throwing a bullet into a bucket of water, to expect to see it float upon the surface.
We say, then, if Peter, on this occasion, walked on the surface of the lake, here was a violation, or suspension, of this universal law; and, if he was sustained by the power of his faith, then faith is competent to set aside, or suspend, the law of gravitation. The walking on the water is an admitted fact, the problem is to account for it. Mr. Furness thinks it reveals a new law. We confess we regard it as more rational, more philosophical, to admit the occurrence of a proper miracle, the interposition of preternatural power, in a given case, and for a worthy purpose, than to infer the existence of a new and superior law from the contemplation of a single fact,—a fact, too, in opposition to the universal sense and experience of mankind. But, if there is such a law, then, like other laws it must operate uniformly and universally, and if one man may walk on the water, suspending the law of gravitation by the power of faith, then any other man, by the same power, may perform the same act, and may counteract, with equal facility, any other of the laws of matter. To what conclusion, then, are we driven? Evidently to this. If the mind of man possess this sovereignty over matter, then he is, potentially, set free from all physical laws and conditions whatever. He may as well walk on his head as on his feet. He may as well move through the air as along the surface of the earth. Law and accident, the possible and the impossible, become convertible terms. Natural philosophy, the knowledge of the properties and relations of physical substances, loses its uses and its end. The established course of things, the regular order of events, as antecedents and consequents, causes and effects, ceases to be. Experience of the past gives no clue to the future, furnishes no ground of sober calculation or rational conjecture, of apprehension or of hope. The wildest dreams of the imagination cannot be discriminated from the dictates of sober judgment. He that
sows tares, may well expect to reap wheat, and he that plants brambles, to gather grapes. There is no extravagance in these statements. Of the principle in question they are no more than the legitimate consequences. The very fact adduced, if it be correctly interpreted, involves them all. For, if this fact were wrought by a power that is "natural," intrinsic, to the human mind, the result of a general law, then each and all the effects we have supposed, may, demonstrably, be wrought by the same power. Thus all things are made to depend, not on fixed and unerring laws, but on the exercise of the human will.
To our mind we must say, the possession of such a power as Mr. Furness claims for the human mind, implies the subjection of the infinite to the control of the finite. The order of Providence, the order in which God chooses to proceed, is liable to be interrupted, and the regular sequences of events broken off, by this intrusive power. It is hardly possible, we think, to overstate such a principle as this.
What the inherent energies of the human soul might enable it to perform, if freed from the restrictions of its present organization, indeed, we pretend not to say. Perhaps it might, perhaps, hereafter, it may, be able to pass with a volition from planet to planet, and to hold converse with other minds at the far distant points of the universe. But we do know, that, in its embodied state, these things are beyond its power; and there is no "presumption" in saying so. We have a clear conception of the modes in which it is possible for man to act. We know, that his action, whatever it be, must be in accordance with the laws of the physical world, that he does not control these, but is controlled by them. And we know, further, that these laws must be consistent with each other. No new law that may be revealed to human inquiry, can be repugnant to any one already revealed. Further investigation may show us that we have been mistaken, - that our views were deficient in comprehension, or that we had taken as ultimate Still, all the facts in the natural,
facts those that were not so. as in the moral world, must be in harmony, and point in one direction.
We deem it absurd, for instance, to suppose that any law should be discovered by which man could act on external matter otherwise than by impulse, because this would be to change their whole being and condition, and supersede the
harmonies and mutual dependences of things. This is what we mean by saying that we have a clear conception of what it is possible for man to perform, a conception that justifies us in saying, that it is naturally impossible for a man to walk on the water, or without mechanical aid, acting in accordance with mechanical principles, to rise into the upper regions of the air. Nor should we hesitate to apply this remark, though, we admit, not with the same kind of certainty, to the raising of the dead, or the restoring of sight, on the instant, to the blind. The common sense and apprehension of mankind in regard to these events are, we are apt to think, substantially correct. It is not difficult, perhaps, for ingenious objectors to perplex and confound these apprehensions; but it is, we think, quite impossible wholly to eradicate them from the mind, at least without breaking up the whole texture of faith, and introducing universal skepticism. Till this is done, men will continue to believe, that the actual restoration of a dead man to life is a miracle, something beyond the power of man, physical or spiritual, to perform.
"Since the world began," was the natural and forcible ap peal of the blind man restored to sight by our Saviour, "was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind." He regarded it, and so, in our opinion, it ought to be regarded, as a miracle, — not a mere wonderful performance, like those of mountebanks and jugglers, which are wonderful only because the process by which they are wrought is concealed, this were a most unworthy supposition, - but a real miracle, something wrought by divine power, in a way, if not contrary, yet certainly superior, to the ascertained laws of material action, something, in short, which would not be a whit the less wonderful, but the more so, could we be made to perceive the principles and process by which it was effected.
But there is a class of miraculous facts recorded in the Gospel, to which it is obvious, the principle we have been considering, allowing all that Mr. Furness would claim for it, is wholly inapplicable. To this class belongs the resurrection of Lazarus, and that of the widow's son, and the daughter of Jairus. In these cases there could, by possibility, be no scope for the exercise of faith. In regard to the former of these, Mr. Furness asks, "How do we know but the soul of Lazarus was present, and within the influence of the voice of Jesus, when he called to him to come forth?" And we, in our turn, might VOL. XXII. - 3D S. VOL. IV. NO. I.
ask, How does he know that it was so? This, it seems to us, would be a fitting and adequate reply. What ground, even of plausible conjecture, can he allege that such was the fact? It is his business to find facts to sustain his theory; and it is his theory not ours, that renders this conscious and intelligent presence of the dead necessary.. It is his theory, not ours, that requires us to suppose, that the soul of Lazarus, after it had cast off its "mortal coil," disembodied, and inorganic, was still capable of hearing the human voice of Jesus, and of being moved by it, in accordance with a natural law, to such powerful exertion as to reanimate the lifeless body, and restore its suspended functions. And we are required to believe all this in order to avoid the supposition of an interruption, or suspension, of what we call the laws of nature. In other words, in order to evade the admission that God, who for wise and beneficent ends, conducts events in the physical world in a regular and perceptible order,so proceeds that we may trace his footsteps, be able to classify facts, and establish sciences, should, on occasions, for reasons equally wise and beneficent, step aside from this order, interrupt the regular series, and introduce an event which we cannot classify, which, so far as human sagacity can penetrate, has no physical cause, and which, for this very reason, we call miraculous. Now, to our apprehensions, this is solving one difficulty, if difficulty it be, by another much greater. But to our minds the supposition of miraculous interposition on adequate occasions involves no difficulty. We deem the supposition of a revelation to be made by the Father of spirits a reasonable one, and we see not how it is possible there should be a revelation without miracles. Truths, however important, which the human mind should attain to in the ordinary exercise of its native powers, would not constitute a revelation, a system of revealed religion. This must, in its very nature, be miraculous, or it cannot be at all. If the miracles of the Gospel are to be regarded as "natural facts," capable of being reduced to natural laws, and explained by them, it does appear to us, that Christianity, as a system of revealed truth, ceases to be. We are thrown back upon mere naturalism. The moral lessons of Jesus must be taken for what they are worth, like those of any other wise and good man; encumbered however with the whole weight of this history of wonderful events, which, on this supposition, prove nothing, and tend to nothing but to excite wonder at the outset, and skepticism in the sequel.