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and the belief that the Scriptures were taken down from divine dictation. The Church is not to blame. But the mischief is in the fact that, even now, so many of its members think that it teaches this view of Scripture. Education is badly needed.
There is an Old Testament miracle which is part of the faith of the Church, and it carries its proof with it. That is Prophecy. Whoever reads the 53rd chapter of Isaiah must be a peculiarly hard-headed rationalist if he does not see that a message like that is inexplicable on the basis of natural experience and reason. The argument on grounds of detailed prediction-"A virgin shall conceive and bear a son," and passages of that sort-turns out to be mostly invalid; but that is not the true method of approach. Prophets here and there caught visions which had no basis in experience, but which were verified centuries later. They were somehow enabled to describe Christ and His work of redemption as truly as did the Apostles after the fact-even more truly, in some cases, it seems! This is the miracle of the Old Testament. It cannot be explained as a "natural" phenomenon. It is a case of the supernatural emerging in human life, and in comparison the miraculous accounts which people argue about sink into insignificance. Whether Elijah was taken up in a chariot of fire or not does not matter; but the fact that Isaiah, or the Unknown Prophet of the Exile, was taken up spiritually high enough to see that the Messiah must suffer for man and manifest His kingship in a way so contradictory to all knowledge of kings is more wonderful, equally unaccountable, and of the greatest practical importance besides.
Coming now to the miracles of the Gospels, we find the primary one thus stated in the Nicene Creed: "The onlybegotten Son of God came down from heaven and was made man." Whoever believes that finds that the miracu
lous acts of this Person recorded in the Gospel present no difficulty to the reason. The acts recorded of Christ are congruous with the idea of His being, which is presented in the Creed. The parting of the ways, therefore, is just where we meet the initial miracle of Christ's own Person. The evidence for this miracle is in Christian experience. It is in the history of the Church for nineteen centuries. It is corroborated by the result of its denial-the necessary conclusion that the fruits of Christianity grew from a garden of lies.
Those who doubt the miracles reported of Christ generally doubt the miracle which, in a sense, explains them. That is logical. But that is where the logic stops. They stand on the proposition that miracles do not happen. Nobody says, "cannot happen"-that would be unscientific. But why say they do not happen, never have happened? Because the evidence for those recorded in the Gospels is insufficient. But why question the testimony of eye-witnesses there given? Because, after all, miracles do not happen. Follow the movements of this cat chasing its tail-miracles do not happen, because none are proven, and the Gospels cannot be received as proof because they say miracles happened and you will perceive that one who says, "do not happen" really means, "cannot happen." Thus the "scientific" mind contradicts the principles of science.
This contradiction shows itself most clearly in the case of the Resurrection. The testimony is of a sort which nobody would dream of questioning in the case of any ordinary historical transaction. In fact, one-tenth of the evidence for the Resurrection would be sufficient for the historian, apart from the miraculous element. The critics no longer impute bad faith to the Apostles. But they are forced to posit a state of mind in the first generation of Christians for which there is no evidence whatever, while
all the knowledge we have points in the opposite direction. If a man cannot believe in miracles, and, consequently, cannot accept the Resurrection, he cannot be blamed for that, but he may may be blamed for essaying a scientific role for which he is unfitted. He poses as a historical student, and proclaims his adherence to the scientific method; but as soon as the miraculous appears, he loses his respect for facts in the form of historical evidence and undertakes to make them serve his preconception, his illogical prejudice, that miracles do not happen. What respect can one have for historical science of this sort?
As for the miracles of the Acts, we are less puzzled to account for their presence in the record than we would have been if they had been absent. In some cases we have happenings which, while unhesitatingly regarded as miracles at the time, are plainly open to another interpretation. Prominent among them are works of healing. This is a province where the critic has learned to walk warily, knowing the inability of science to account for things which are happening every day. St. Paul did not point to his miracles to establish his authority or to guarantee his teaching. Whatever he thought of the miracles which were being performed in the Church, he evidently thought that the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of men was more wonderful.
In conclusion: a few years ago men were talking of the natural and the supernatural and the distinction between them with a confident dogmatism at which we wonder today. So many facts have accumulated which defy "natural" explanation, while nobody thinks of applying the term "supernatural" in a sense which would imply that investigation is useless. With the passing of the old dogmatism the whole matter of miracle takes on a new aspect. It used to be said that while, at first, Christianity leaned on its miracles, now they were become a heavy burden
upon it. Yet we may doubt whether the miracles, simply as marvels, ever played an important part in the support of Christian teaching; and if they are now a burden, it is evident that the weight is growing less.
The Church has never said, "You must believe every report of a miraculous occurrence found in Scripture," but the Church does call men to believe in Christ. And one who is in the true relation to the supreme miracle of history has a standard of judgment in regard to the various miraculous accounts in Scripture which no development of the mere critical faculty can supply. No evidence will impress one who starts with the theory that miracles do not happen; but the evidence of the Gospels is most understandingly weighed by those who have common faith and a like spirit with the men who gave it.
On Letting Go
REV. JOHN H. YATES
HERE is a time to hold on and a time to let go. The former is illustrated for us by the situation which confronted England when the phrase "carry on" was coined. This phrase was a noble one, and was quite necessary and right in its place and time. It stood for a courageous attitude of mind, but a dangerous one, nevertheless, when it becomes, as it so often does, a fixed habit of life. We have all seen-perhaps we have been in the company of men who have practiced holding on so long that they have lost the power to let go. Such people are usually very hard to live with and they seldom accomplish the great tasks in life for which they have permitted their muscles to become rigid, their jaws to become firmly set, and their dispositions to become crabbed.
When people are thus afflicted, they need to practice the noble art of letting go. To do this, even to consent to try to do this, in this age of great demands, when every man is expected to be an atlas, bearing the whole world upon his shoulders, when the business of life is so pressingto do this requires faith, and faith is largely lacking to us moderns, or else where it exists is bound up irrevocably with the doctrine of holding one. "How can I let go?" asks the modern American, "when so much depends upon my holding on? Am I to turn my affairs over to some inefficient clerk and let my business go to the dogs? Do you expect me to give up my interest in philanthropy and withdraw myself from all the 'drives' which I am expected to help see through? Would you have me lay down on the job when millions of my fellow men are starving? Go to! thous sluggard! Where, then, is thy religion?"
Having said this, either to himself, or to his neighbor, he is satisfied that no possible answer can be found to refute so crushing an argument and he continues to hold on; only now he does so more firmly than ever, for by the well known psychological law to the effect that the more we repeat a statement the more we persuade ourselves of its truth, he is even more sure than ever before that his conduct is above reproach. He is in no humor now, nor will he be for some time to come, to listen to the still, calm, persuasive voice of the Psalmist, saying, in tones full of divine assurance: "For he giveth his beloved as much in sleep." As much, that is, as the over-anxious gain by preventing the night watches. "It is in vain that ye rise up early and so late take your rest: For he giveth his beloved as much in sleep."
There are certain outstanding conditions and beliefs in our American life which tend to confirm in us the habit of forever holding on. The first of these is a condition which varies greatly in different parts of the country, namely,