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that the church rejoiced, and was confirmed in the truth,-the adversaries were vexed, and murmured.” They originated, he informs us, “with Montanus, a late convert in the time of Gratus, Proconsul of Asia, in the latter end of the second century, who, elated with ambition, gave advantage to Satan against him. The man behaved in a frantic manner, and pretended to prophecy. Some, who heard him, checked him as a lunatic, and forbade his public exhibitions, mindful of our Saviour's predictions and warnings against false prophets; others boasted of him as endued with the Holy Ghost, and forgetting the divine admonitions, were ensnared by his arts, and encouraged his imposture. Two women were by Satan possessed of the same spirit, and spake foolish and fanatical things. They gloried in their own supposed superior sanctity and happiness, and were deluded with the most flattering expectations. Few of the Phrygians (in whose country the evil sprung up) were seduced, though they took upon them to revile every church under heaven, which did not pay homage to their pretended inspirations, The faithful, throughout Asia, in frequent synods, examined and condemned the

heresy."

: Can we not discern a strong family likeness between the earliest and the latest of these delusions ?

The observations on this passage in MilNER'S HISTORY OF THE CHURCH OF CHRIST, from which it has been quoted, are so important, and so much to the purpose, that I shall here beg leave to introduce them. « It has ever been one of the greatest trials to men really led by the Spirit of God,” says that pious and able writer, “ besides the open opposition of the profane, to be obliged to encounter the subtle devices of Satan, in raising up pretended illuminations, which, by their folly, and wickedness, and self-conceit, expose godliness to contempt. The marks of distinction are plain to serious minds, and those of tolerable judgment and discretion; but men void of the fear of God will not distinguish. We see here an instance of what has often been repeated from that day to the present in the Church of Christ; and real Christians did then, what ought always to be done now,-examine, expose, condemn, and separate themselves from such delusions; while enthusiasts, of every age, in folly, pride, and uncharitableness, have followed the pattern of Montanus. Nothing happened here but what is foretold in Scripture, and is in truth so common a concomitant of the real work of God, that wherever it appears, there this appears also.” (22.)

How different have been the pretensions, the principles, the success, of genuine reformers !

St. Chrysostom was an early instrument of a great revival in the church. He pretended to no special inspiration, His principles were liberal, like those of his Divine Master. As to miracles, hear his testimony:

« Because no miracles are wrought now, make not that an evidence that none were wrought then; for then it was useful there should be miracles, and now it is useful there should not.” (23.) This was in the fourth, or early in the fifth century.

St. Augustine was a holy man. He extended the right hand of fellowship to all who loved the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity, unsparing as he was in the castigation of those who laboured to promulgate dangerous errors. He affected no intercourse with heaven, but such as is common to all believers. He was made eminently useful. And what says he of miracles, to which his adversaries, the Donatists, appealed in support of their innovations ? Against these miraclemongers my God hath put me upon my guard, by admonishing me that in the last days there shall arise false prophets, who shall work such signs and wonders

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as to deceive, if possible, the very elect.”. Away with these, either figments of lying men, or illusions of deceiving spirits.” (24.)

To Gregory the Great, who was Bishop of Rome in the sixth century, we owe the second introduction of Christianity into this country, where it had by that time almost disappeared, amid the reviving gloom of Paganism. He approved not of making a shibboleth of trifles, as his Epistles, preserved by the venerable Bede, testify; and in his 18th Homily on Ezekiel, he expressly speaks of himself as having wrought no miracles. (25.)

Who more catholic than our venerable Wickliffe ? Whose labours have been more owned of heaven than his ? Yet he put forth no claim to inspiration or miraculous gifts. · It will be sufficient to enlarge this truly illustrious catalogue with the names of a Luther, a Melancthon, a Cranmer, a Latimer, a Ridley, a Hooper,--to which might be added several others, both of the same, and of more modern date. These were all men of the same spirit,-prospered with the same success,—and equally free from the presumptuous pretensions so inseparable from impostors and enthusiasts. (26.) In vain do we look among such men for the peculiarities we have specified; while where is the heresiarch, or apostle of fanaticism, that displays them not ?

The persons who have lately rendered themselves so notorious, assume the power of working miracles. They profess themselves to be inspired. This very circumstance, it has been shown, ought to arouse our suspicions, independent of the nature of the miracles themselves. The miracles recorded in Scripture, of which they affect to be a continuation, were wrought for a specific purpose. They were manifestly designed to lay a firm foundation for the Christian Church, and to gather together a permanent community of believers in the Messiah, out of nations of repugnant and hostile creeds;—to induce the adherents of Judaism and Paganism to acknowledge that the Son of God was come in the flesh. When this purpose was effected, and the most powerful and enlightened empires on earth became nominally Christian, they were discontinued, as no longer necessary. Of this we have abundant evidence, and this view of the matter the soundest divines have uniformly taken. (27.) “The extraordinary gifts of the Spirit,” says St. Chrysostom, were given even to the unworthy, because the church then stood in need of miracles; but at present they are not so much as given to the worthy, the church no longer standing in need of them.” He afterwards expressly says, that not only was there nobody then who raised the dead, but nobody who so much as healed the sick. St. Augustine also asks,

Why have those miracles, which were performed some time ago, at present ceased ?" And he gives precisely the same reason. Calvin observes, “ To demand miracles of us is highly wrong; for we have not been the inventors of a new Gospel; but we retain that very Gospel which has for its confirmation all the miracles which Christ and his Apostles have wrought.” The record of them, preserved in the Word of God, is now sufficient for establishing the faith of persons brought up in a Christian country;—and of heathens too,-since the Christian Missionary can enforce his arguments by an appeal to the miraculous progress of the doctrines of the Cross, and above all, to the miraculous change of heart and life effected by them wherever they are truly received. Where those means will not produce conversion, miracles would operate equally in vain. If they believe not Christ and his Apostles, neither would they believe though one rose from the dead.

The advocates for the existence of miraculous gifts in the present age, argue that their suspension has only been the consequence of our want of faith. Nothing can be more contradictory to reason and Scripture. Is any lack of faith discernible in the distinguished reformers and revivers of spiritual religion, to whom we have already had occasion to advert, -all of whom lived after the cessation of miracles, and many of whom sealed the truth with their blood ? If any faith could have availed for such a purpose, would it not have been that which animated some of them ? And what say those whom we know to have been inspired ? Does not St. Paul, in particular, depreciate such gifts in comparison of faith, hope, charity,—those abiding and more excellent fruits of the Spirit? Does he not severely reprehend those on whom they were conferred for their vain-glorious and unprofitable display of them ? Does not our blessed Lord himself, speaking of his second coming, tell us, “ Many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, have wê not prophesied in thy name ? and in thy name have cast out devils ? and in thy name have done many marvellous works? And then,” he adds, “will I profess" unto them, I never knew you, depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” They were not all his faithful followers who were empowered in his name to work miracles.

Great stress is laid on that passage in the General Epistle of James; “ Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” (28.) One little word in this passage will serve as a key to open to us its true import. “If he have committed sins !” Is there then any man who has not ? Is any human being free from guilt in the sight of God ? Scripture does not contradict Scripture. This clause cannot therefore admit of any interpretation subversive of the plainly revealed doctrine of universal depravity. The sins alluded to must consequently have been of a particular kind. They were doubtless such as many, in the infancy of the church, were tempted to commit, and as God, very often, for a more signal example and terror to others, visited, in the case of notorious offenders, with immediatè punishments of bodily sicknesses and death. Thus 'St. Paul struck Ananias and Sapphira dead upon the spot for their lying unto the Holy Ghost. Thus St. Paul smote Elymas the Sorcerer with blindness for his malicious opposition to the Gospel. And thus in the church at Corinth-the most degenerate of the primitive churches, although the most bountifully endowed with miraculous gifts,-those who had profaned the Lord's Supper, by their rude and irreverent behaviour, were visited by the immediate hand of God for their impiety and scandal. “ For this cause,” says the Apostle, “many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep:"_that is, are dead. The reference to Elias seems to place the matter beyond dispute. He is named as an instance of the effectual fervent

prayer of a righteous man having first drawn down a miraculous punishment, and afterwards procured a miraculous remedy. “ He prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” This fixes the allusion of St. James to a particular time; -coupling this miraculous mode of recovery with the miraculous stroke which had caused the sickness ;-thus at once depriving the Church of Rome of the boasted Apostolical foundation for its sacrament of Extreme Unction, and Protestant fanatics, in the nineteenth century, of the shadow of Apostolical encou

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ragement to attempt the miraculous restoration of the sick. Till they can inflict diseases, like the primitive Christians, let them not presume to aspire to their power of healing them. (29.)

God forbid, however, that I should attempt to deny that providential and remarkable recoveries from sickness are frequently granted in answer to prayer. « The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” The prayer of faith our Heavenly Father always hears, and can always answer, without recourse to a miracle. When he first regulated the inscrutable operations of nature, and constructed the complicated machinery of providence, he took care to make provision thereby for special interpositions, and gracious manifestations of his guardian care, in behalf of every individual descendant of Adam, and particularly of every one who bears the image of the second Adam. (30.) His almighty power, and perfect wisdom, alike preclude the necessity or the probability of his having recourse to a constant succession of miracles, which would only tarnish the splendour of those by which his temporal sovereignty over his ancient people was manifested in the sight of the heathen, and the more extensive and permanent spiritual kingdom of his Son, typified by the Jewish economy, was established. No miracles could more distinctly reveal his finger than do his special providences, if we did but habituate ourselves to notice them. It is our neglect to hearken to this still small voice, in which he so repeatedly speaks to us all, that renders us so liable to become the dupes of every delusion Satan can invent to mislead us, to the dishonour of the really miraculous interferences of the Almighty, and the injury of our own souls.

But to come to these imaginary miracles themselves. Allowing the events to have taken place precisely as is represented, are they entitled to such a dignified appellation ? “No event,” it has been well observed, can be justly deemed miraculous, merely because it is strange, or even to us unaccountable; for it may be nothing more than the regular effect of some physical cause, operating according to an established though unknown law of nature.” “ It is therefore necessary, before we can pronounce 'an event to be a true miracle, that the circumstances under which it was produced be known, and that the common course of nature be in some degree understood; for in all those cases in which we are totally ignorant of nature, it is impossible to determine what is, and what is not, a deviation from her course." (31.)

With respect to those restorations to health, effected by what is affirmed to be the gift of healing, the best qualified judges, scientific and experienced men, have unanimously pronounced them to be, though rare, yet not unprecedented. occurrences, the effects of some law of nature evidently in constant operation, but not at present sufficiently understood. (32.)

A miracle has been defined to be “ an effect or event, contrary to the established constitution or course of things, or a sensible suspension or controlment of, or deviation from, the known laws of nature, wrought either by the immediate act, or by the assistance, or by the permission of God, and accompanied with a previous notice or declaration, that it is performed according to the purpose and by the power of God, for the proof or evidence of some particular doctrine, or in attestation of the authority or divine mission of some particular person.” (33.)

Such were the miracles of our Lord and his Apostles, and of the early Christians. That such are not the occurrences lately obtruded on our notice under the name, a slight comparison of the former with the latter will sufficiently evince.

The primitive believers wrought a great variety of wonderful works. It was

given them, in the name of Jesus, to cast our devils, as well as to speak with new tongues ; to take up serpents, and drink any deadly thing without hurt to themselves,

as well as to restore the sick by the laying on of hands. The misnamed miracles of the present day, on the contrary, if we except what is called the gift of tongues, are confined to healing the sick, or rather causing the lame to walk. Do our British miracle-mongers suppose it requires stronger faith to handle serpents or to swallow poison, than to raise an already almost convalescent cripple, or to speak aloud in an unintelligible manner, that we hear nothing of their exploits in that way?

Besides, the first disciples cured, both men and women, of “all manner of diseases, and all manner of infirmities; and great multitudes were made whole" by them. (34.) Whereas the two or three cases which have lately been so much vaunted, respect only nervous females, and all belong to one class; and that a class, be it recollected, which furnished the Emperor Vespasian, (35,) and other heathens, with their blasphemous pretensions to this divine gift; -a class to which the cure of Winifred White, so boasted of by the Roman Catholic Church, and a profusion of others, laid claim to by that ambitious hierarchy, may be referred ;—a class with which medical men, of any experience, are tolerably familiar, though in ignorance, unfortunately, of the seat of disease, or the mode of cure;—a class which has constantly furnished, both from among believers and unbelievers, the exhibition of what may be termed NATURAL MIRACLES to such an extent, that a mere list of the best authenticated of them would fill a tolerable sized volume. (36.) Such infirmities, it is notorious, generally defy the skill of the physician or surgeon, and take flight at some accidental,—let me rather say some providential circumstance,--usually exciting strong emotion, or communicating an unexpected shock. Again, the first disciples healed in the streets, and in the temple, and in other places of the most public resort ; before foes, as well as friends ;—who were constrained to acknowledge that mighty works were done by them, which they had no other way of maligning than that of ascribing them to the agency of evil spirits. These alleged miracles, on the contrary, were all performed in privacy, far from the inspection of gainsayers ; and not even every member of the families in which they took place believes them, if I am rightly informed, to be any thing more than remarkable providential

occurrences.

Then, the miracles of the early believers were not tentative. They were successful without a single exception. All who came unto them were restored perfect health. This has not been the case, it appears, with all on whom these deluded or artful persons have laid hands for that purpose.

All the primitive cures effected through the medium of the miraculous gift were instantaneous, as well as those by which our Saviour testified his mission. The word was spoken, and the transformation stood complete. Search the Scriptures, and see if it were not so. Not one of those we are considering had this important signet of Divine agency, as one of the principal actors has been candid enough to confess.

None of the ordinary means of recovery were resorted to in the instances on record of the primitive miraculous cures. In those so called in our own day, some, at least, of the patients, were under medical treatment at the time the change took place, and this was probably the case with all.

Many of our Saviour's miracles of healing, especially, could not be suspected of having been promoted by excitement in the applicant.

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