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It is one of the most significant signs of recent theological progress that the old method of proving —with superb skill it was done—the miraculous attestations to have been unimpeachably divine, and then imposing the contents of the revelation so attested for acceptance without question as divine, is treated as no longer admissible: able to distinguish between forces and laws, modern Christian thought has left behind the notion of miracles as violating the laws of nature, and has exposed the fallacy of Hume's position times without number: it has also recognised the insufficiency of mere testimony to authenticate a divine revelation : with Mozley, it sees not in miracle that which leads to the acceptance of any doctrine contrary to our moral nature or the primary principles of religion: it owns that miracle is not destined to prove the truth of revelation,-is, in fact, without the power to do so: it takes account of the contents of revelation as well as its form, and views the miracles as themselves important though not primary parts of the revelation, conform in character with the nature of the revelation but without the significance for us which they had for contemporaries,
Recent Christian thought has more sympathetically felt the pressure of much earnest thought of its own time which has only been able to reject miracle, for it has very clearly perceived this rejection of miracle to be a result of the prevalence of a superficial philosophy which, basing its interpretation simply on physical forces and phenomena, has regarded the principle of causation as universal. It has, too, in fuller remembrance of how unknown to the purely scientific spirit is liberty, that free personal power of which miracle is the concomitant, more lucidly shown the helpfulness, not hindrance, of miracle to faith in the higher rationality of its presentation of miracle as related to the personality of God and His immediate presence in nature, which man, in virtue of the prevalence of law in nature, has been so little able to recognise. The question is not now, as in the deistic age, of the relation of miracles, conceived as isolated events, marvels, or manifestations, to a reign of law, but of their symbolising, in their restored rationality, the greatness of the Person of Jesus, in Whose unique personality they were grounded, and of Whose revelation to us they really formed constitutive parts. Retained thus rather as constituent elements or integral parts than as exterior attestations of revelation, and perceived, with a new clearness, to symbolise the energy flowing from Christ to the world, miracles, so far from being regarded as the mere subjective experiences into which pantheistic idealism would resolve them, are viewed by modern Christian thought as actual prophecies of the redemptive blessings hid for humanity in the Saviour, no coruscations of a brilliant Thaumaturgist, but manifestations, as Neander truly divined, of the nature of the Christ in statu humiliationis.
The Christian theology of to - day, with its theism in which the reality of personality alike on the divine and the human side is recognised, stumbles not at the miracles of Jesus, those natural and necessary fruits of the incarnation of One who was truly Son of God, but holds that without them the records of such a Person should exhibit an “inexplicable chasm and inconsistency.” Now, as never before, theology, grown more spiritual, feels that the unexplained miracle—the miracle of miraclesis the Person of Jesus Christ, beside Whose unparalleled personality the marvels of sensethose merely transient, emblematic, subordinate affairs which men call “miracles,” but which in His case present phenomena so appropriate to His Person — are easy of explanation and acceptance. Signacular and subordinate though they be, theology holds them not of light account to-day, for it is not forgetful that they stand, as Christian thought should always have made them stand, related to the living reason with which law is vitalised, and that they have given to the generations lessons in judgment and mercy, the law, in fact, of Christian beneficence, and unmeasured inspiration to practical Christian charity. The names of Rothe, Dorner, Harris, and G. P. Fisher may suffice as instances from among many Christian theologians whose handling of miracles reveals the wise but signal advances in the theological treatment of this subject.
There has been a like advance in modern theology in respect of the evidence of Prophecy as an argument of independent value, the old presentation no longer having relevancy to the mind of the age. A truer setting has been found for miracle, and for that of which it is the true correlate, prophecy, now better understood to be the proper vehicle of revelation, when they have been viewed by modern theology as a natural outcome of those theophanies or divine manifestations whereby the presence of the selfrevealing God in the growing stages of the history of redemption was made known to men. Retaining, in respect of prophecy, a real and extraordinary operation of God's Spirit upon the prophetic mind, our recent Christian thought cherishes a larger conception of the nature of this working, whereby prophetic inspiration is divested of its magical and mechanical character, and viewed in no mere external light. Since such writers as P. Fairbairn, Davison, Orelli, Oehler, and Ewald, the argument from prophecy, presently somewhat discredited, though, it must be said, on rather flimsy grounds, has been more ably represented as finding its strength in the phenomena of prophecy, the central phenomena of the Old Testament, taken in whole, though not, of course, in any sense that should imply a compacted system, because the organic whole of prophecy is such as must involve a supernatural development in Israel's history so fore