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MIRACLES, SIGNS, POWERS. Every fresh occurrence which in any way bears upon Religion occasions a further manifestation of the very low and weak state in which faith, hope, and charity now linger, and creep, and tremble in the church, compared with times of old, when, "strong in faith, she gave glory to God” in all things; when, with her “ anchor of the soul both sure and stedfast," she was constantly looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ;" and when, "coveting earnestly the best gifts,” she “ followed

“ after a yet more excellent way,"_" charity, that never faileth ;" when, in short, the pass-word among the soldiers of Christ was this, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.... Let all things be done with charity.”

This low state of the church we have often taken occasion to point out and deplore, as a sinful dereliction of our calling, as living below our privileges. By it we wither and cramp those vital energies which our risen Head is ever willing to infuse into his members; and lead to a disbelief of the indwelling Spirit of God in his own temple," whose temple are ye :” from which

“ indwelling alone the new life can be quickened and strengthened to triumph over the world, the devil, and the flesh.

A new and remarkable instance of this has arisen since our last publication, in the opposition which has been raised against the doctrine of any continuance of miraculous demonstrations of the presence of Christ by His Spirit in the church since the Apostles' death :-and the boldest denial and fiercest opposition of the doctrine having appeared in those quarters where it was least expected, and amongst those who are considered as the best and most moderate instructors of the church, we may take this instance as a fair specimen both of the average quantum of doctrinal knowledge, and of the faith, hope, and charity abiding in the church of these times—these LAST DAYS, concerning which the praises of man form a perfect contrast to the declarations of God in his holy word. And we repeat on this, as on former occasions, that we ourselves claim no exemption from the malady which enervates all around, and infects the atmosphere we breathe. We, too, are members of the same body, where, “ if one member suffer, all the members suffer with it ;" and writing sometimes in bitterness of spirit, and sometimes perhaps in a state of excitement, which is too frequent an attendant upon debility, we desire to exercise towards others, as well as claim for ourselves, that grace " which beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things :" knowing that “the end of the commandment is charity, out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned; from which some having swerved, have turned aside unto vain jangling.”

We enter upon this question with feelings of peculiar solemnity, and even dread: for, as we cannot but deem any resistance of the Holy Spirit, in word or in deed, to be a sin most awfully great, we cannot but tremble at the thought of charging brethren, men who profess to believe in our Lord Jesus Christ, with a guilt so tremendous : while we cannot escape the conclusion, that the language they have employed, if used knowingly, and with a full perception of the consequences, must bring them under such a condemnation, and call for most deep and bitter repentance, if perhaps the thought of their heart may be forgiven. Under these solemn considerations, and with all things shaking around us to their very foundations, we dismiss minor concerns; we forget petty squabbles, which at a former period might have interested us; and would endeavour to press home, upon the conscience of every Christian, words which we pray that the Holy Spirit may imprint deeply upon our own hearts, as our only security in these perilous times : “ EXAMINE yourselves whether ye be IN THE FAITH: prove your ownselves. Know ye not your ownselves, how that Jesus Christ is in YOU, except ye be reprobates ?(2 Cor. xiii. 5.)

The first thing which strikes us as remarkable in this controversy, is the extreme importance which has been attached, on both sides, to the fact of a sudden cure; and the excessive anxiety manifested, by those who were first allowed to publish it, to prevent their readers from supposing it miraculous : and this under the CHRISTIAN dispensation, the last and fullest manifestation of the power and presence of God. We do not mean to say that more than its actual importance has been given to the cure'; but we do say that enough of importance has not been given to the far higher and more peculiar endowments of the Christian church ; and that the sturdy rejection of miracles, as too high a gift for the church of our day (a gift which even the Jewish church and the seventy disciples possessed), necessarily infers the rejection of the far higher endowments, the peculiar privileges of the Christian church,—the more excellent way, superadded thereto. “ Covet earnestly the best gifts; and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way” (1 Cor. xii. 31). Those who deny the continuance of miracles in the church, would, many of them, be perfectly horror-struck if any one should express a doubt of their regeneration : but every regenerate person is a temple of the Holy Ghost (1 Cor. vi. 19), and a miracle is but the sign of his presence ; yet we all assume the presence, of which these persons deny the sign. For be it remembered, that even with the Apostles it was not their own power or holi

ness which wrought the miracle, but faith in the name of Jesus, through the Holy Ghost (Acts iii. 12). We do not, therefore, say that the importance now given to miracles is too great-a sign of the presence of God cannot be made too important, as a sign-but we claim a far, far higher importance for that which the sign indicates, for the presence: and being the presence of God himself, we would swell the importance to infinitude.

Nay, more ; we have not even yet sufficiently exalted regeneration, which we all claim, even while disclaiming miracles : for regeneration is a far higher work in kind, as well as in degree. Miracles indicate the power of God present at the time, but which may depart, and leave the man just as before ; but regeneration induces new responsibility, is a work wrought in the soul, a new creation by the indwelling of the Spirit uniting the believer to his risen Lord, and making him partaker of those gifts and privileges which Christ received at his ascension, as the reward of his incarnation and death, and by the bestowal of which he enables his people to follow his footsteps, and prepares them to wear his crown. “ The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.... that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them” (John xvii. 22, 26). For miracles, be it remembered, belonged equally to the Jewish dispensation, and were wrought by Elijah and Elisha as frequently as by Peter or Paul; and this when there was no new doctrine to establish, and no important purpose to serve, as, the iron swimming, the dead man revived by the prophet's bones, &c. And be it observed, that the miracles of our Lord occasioned no expression of astonishment amongst the Pharisees, as if they had been some new and unexpected thing ; but they only took them as an evidence that he was a teacher sent from God; and would, like Nicodemus, have calmly assented to the inference that no man can do such miracles except God be with him (John iii. 2). But when our Lord proceeded to declare, what we all profess to believe, « Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God,” this believer in miracles cried out, in astonishment, “ How can these things be?Regeneration was with him the marvel, though we have reversed the sentiment. A disciple might now go to his teacher, and say, " I believe that I am a regenerate man, for no man can do any good works until he has been born again :" so far all would be calm and orderly: but if his teacher should proceed to ask, “ Have you the gifts of the Holy Ghost? is God with you to do miracles ?" this disciple would start with astonishment, like Nicodemus, and say, " How can these things be?” And if his teacher should even produce him the very word of that risen, Lord, whom he professes to reverence as God, saying, “ Greater works than these shall ye do, because I go to my Father” (John xiv. 12), he would probably stifle conviction by an evasion, saying, The “ works” are not miracles, or the “

ye” but that generation. Alas! alas ! the presence of the whole is no longer held to imply the presence of its parts. We all acknowledge that“ by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body'' (1 Cor. xii. 13), while we deny that “ the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal” (ver. 7); and reject the various manifestations, “ though all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (ver. 11); though we all “ are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (ver. 27). The indwelling of God is professed, while the stout denial of every thing which manifests the finger of God flatly belies the profession.

In one other respect, too, the Pharisees held more of the truth than we do: for they believed that miracles might be wrought by evil spirits, as well as by the Holy Spirit; and that therefore the miracle did not prove the doctrine, but the doctrine the miracle! The magicians of Egypt wrought real miracles, though in opposition to the servant of God: and when the Pharisees slandered our Lord, by saying that he cast out devils through Beelzebub, he did not deny the possibility of such works being done by an evil spirit, but shewed that in this case it would be Satan divided against Satan, and therefore destructive of his own power ;-an argument which necessarily concedes that Satan had the power. And with such a power he is prophesied of as to come in the last days: 2 Thess. ii. 9, “With all power, and signs, and lying wonders, and with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish....for God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe

And again, Rev. xiii. 14: “He deceiveth them that dwell on the earth, by the means of those miracles which he had power to do.” Thus certain it is, that, as God shall work miracles by and among his people, to confirm them in the truth, and to give them boldness to declare it *; so Satan shall work lying wonders, by and among his people, who shall themselves believe the lie; and the delusion shall be so strong as to “deceive, if it were possible, the very elect.”

“ Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord :" see, oh see the fearful predicament in which the church now stands : think of the anguish which dutiful sons of the church must feel in being brought to the conclusion which we are now about to record, That the opposition shewn to those doctrines, the preaching of which peculiarly characterizes these last times, will, if persisted in, amount to the sin of endeavouring to exclude GOD FROM THE WORLD. Let not the reader start away, as if we had uttered an absurdity too gross to require examination, too incredible to be real; but let him ask his own conscience whether the rejection of these doctrines be not in very deed this very sin ; creeping in unsuspected at first, till at length, by rejecting one truth after another, it acquires the appalling enormity of denying God. We entreat, we beseech our brethren to consider, that the cautions against studying Prophecy, which was the first form of opposition to the truth, at length matured into a denial of any exactness in the word of God ; explaining every strong passage into a poetic image, or an Eastern figure, and so virtually denying the present interference of God the Father in the affairs of men, and resolving every occurrence into a dependence of cause and effect, or some regular law, which God may have fixed long ago, but which he has now left to work on in one uniform course. The second form of opposition to the truth was shewn in the denial of any personal coming or reign of Christ; which has taken at. length the appalling form of rejecting God the Son from any presence with, or interference in the affairs of this world; representing it as a degradation of our glorified Lord to suppose that he will ever return to the earth; that, having now left the earth, he has left it for ever; that the judgment-day is only a simultaneous display of the glory given to each saint at the hour of death-an exhibition of a state of things which has already been : no deed done, no mighty Doer: the penalty, say they, having already preceded the sentence, the reward having preceded the acquittal: those who have died in the Lord being supposed already in heaven, those who have died in sin being supposed already in hell!!! The third forin of opposition is now manifesting itself, and is still more appalling than the two former, being a denial of God the Holy Ghost; and this has now revealed the full extent of our unbelief. For in the two former cases it might have been argued that the presence of the Father and of the Son were implied in the presence of the Holy Spirit; but this age has set the seal to its own condemnation, in denying that the same Spirit which wrought in the Apostles is now in the church; and by dividing the Spirit bimself, with their invention of “ordinary and extraordinary operation ;” and then, by a most preposterous exchange, calling the lesser gift extraordinary, the greater gift ordinary. We earnestly beseech our brethren to examine whether they may not have lowered the

* That this is the real use of miracies is evident from Acts iv. 29–31, where the Apostles pray,

Grant unto thy servants that with all boldness they may speak thy word, hy stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."

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