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Temple was not in itself so great a miracle, nor so interesting in its circumstances, as many of those wrought by the Lord, but its effect was much more profound. It confounded even the council, which had only been irritated by the raising of Lazarus. Other examples might easily be given of this remarkable fact; a peculiarity in the miracles of the apostles due to the fulfilment of the promise which, in this respect, set the servant above his Lord.
The terms employed when the supernatural powers and works of the apostles are spoken of, on being compared with the terms used with reference to the “works” of the Lord, suggest other grounds of difference. Believing in the plenary, verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, we regard the accurate discriminative use of words, shown in the highest degree in all the sacred writings, as itself miraculous. Even those who deny verbal inspiration are obliged to admit this quality in the words of Scripture as a necessary basis of interpretation, although it might not be easy to defend both the adinission and the denial. The light from this source is, in our present inquiry, much obscured by the unhappy choice of terms in the common version, which, we hope, may soon be remedied. The English word “ miracle," so freely used in the vernacular translation, is often misleading and feeble. It signifies in popular speech anything astonishing, marvellous, wonderful, either natural or preternatural, anything contrived to excite surprise. Even when specifically applied to the acts of Christ and His apostles it directs attention to that which is their least important aspect. These works were not performed with a view to excite astonishment. They were signs of great truths and portents of great events. Without noticing occasional uses of other terms and phrases we find three specific words made use of, Tépas, wonder, portent, onuelov, sign, and dúvauis, power. With regard to the first of these, tépas, which approaches nearest in signification to the English word “miracle," we find that it is never applied in the gospels to the Lord's works. It is only used in them of the false Christs and false prophets who, by great signs and “wonders,” should, if possible, deceive the very elect. In the Acts it is once applied to the dead by Peter, chap. ii., in his exposition of a quotation from the Prophet Joel. Peter there refers to the evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus from “miracles, and wonders, and signs. As a miracle is a wonder, a plain English reader is unable to perceive the distinction, which a literal rendering of the verse makes plain. “ Jesus of Nazareth, a man pointed out to you from God, by powers, and portents, and signs.” The wonders or portents here alluded to evidently refer to such appearances as that of His natal star, the voice and the descent of the Holy Spirit at His baptism, and such like ; so that Peter's use of the word is not a variation from the constant usage of the evangelists. The word Tépas is constantly used of the apostles, but the principle just laid down will explain it in every case.
The word onueiov is worthy of notice as the Greek equivalent for the Hebrew term properly translated "sign,” thus connecting the Old Testament with the New by a most important link the strength and beauty of which may be easily discovered. The Lord's works were emphatically “signs” of a great and gracious presence, of a new element for the regeneration of human nature, of an unfathomable capacity for blessing indicated but not revealed. There are passages, and not a few, in which the substitution of the precise term “ sign for the vague and unsatisfactory word “miracle," sheds a clear light upon what was before hidden or obscured.
But the most specific and important word of the three, and that most commonly used in the synoptic gospels, is the plural of dúvajcs. It must be admitted that this is a very difficult word to accommodate to the idiomatic peculiarities of English speech, partly because of the peculiar idiomatic usages in which it is employed in Greek, but the use of "miracle” is most objectionable, since it signifies, not miracles, but the power which effects them. It is scarcely less injurious to translate the word "mighty works.” After a careful examination of its
usage the conclusion arrived at is that this is one of those cases in which the attempt to remove obscurity increases it, and the difficulty may be most fairly overcome by a literal rendering, when the word
powers ” would lead to the inquiry, What were these powers ? which is, we apprehend, the very point the Holy Spirit would lead us to. The term predicates, not "mighty works,” but faculties, capacities, physical, mental, moral, or spiritual, and its use implies that these were inherent in the Lord's Divine-human nature. “Powers showed forth themselves in Him." A true perception of the right meaning of this word gives a great insight into the Lord's character and work.
It is worthy of notice that in John's gospel no mention is made of the Lord's dúvajers, “powers. In the discourses recorded by John as in the Lord's own words, He always speaks of His works, épya, i.e., the effects of powers. Thus, when the other evangelists mention the Saviour's miracles, they use a term which calls attention from the deeds to the doer; John simply refers to them as done. When he writes of them as incidents in the history he calls them by their proper name, signs. These peculiarities of diction are suggestive of the dignity and reticence of our Lord's character, as well as of His views of His own works. We may add to these remarks the observation that in the gospels the Lord is always said to have given "authority,” è govoria, to the disciples when sent forth. In one case the phrase is “power (sing.) and authority,” dúvajiv kai čovolav, the indication evidently being that of temporary delegation instead of permanent endowment, which was given afterwards.
From this glance at the import of the words used to denote supernatural powers and actions, we are enabled to appreciate the exactitude of the Lord's statements made during the final interviews with His apostles—of which that most to our purpose is the language recorded by Luke, to which the words in Mark may be regarded as supplementary. In the commission, as given in Matthew, no reference is made to miraculous powers, although there is a very
ample assurance of the supernatural presence. The phrase “all power” in the exordium is properly “all authority.” At the important interview mentioned by Luke, the Lord's instructions were concluded by the injunction that the disciples should “ tarry in Jerusalem until they were endued with power from on high.” metaphor is beautiful and suggestive. They were to be "clothed with power." The frequent use of this bold figure shows its value; Paul speaks of the immersed into Christ as having been clothed with Christ, of being clothed with the new man; and of the final change as being clothed upon with immortality. It predicates an envelopment-Divine, suitable, complete--in power; such power, or powers, as we may fairly judge, shall belong to all whose bodies sown in weakness shall be raised in power, and which clothed the first disciples as the uniform of the Captain of salvation, and as an earnest of the time when all His shall be arrayed in like glory.
The apostles invariably place the “powers” with which they were clothed in the front of their qualifications. No enumeration is given of them, and it would be vain to attempt any exact analysis. They were manifold in their operations, but all were given for edification, not destruction, although inclusive of power for judgment. Paul, in his spirited defence of his own integrity and position against the cavillers at Corinth, exclaims—"Truly, the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and powers ;” and in the Epistle to the Hebrews, there is what is apparently intended to be a complete classification of the Divine testimony in favour of the apostles (Heb. ii. 4)—“God also bearing witness, with signs and wonders, and various 'powers, and distributions of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.” It is not without design that the Scriptures direct attention to the “powers” with which the disciples were clothed, instead of to their effects as our translators have generally chosen to do; nor can it be regarded as unimportant that among the “distributions” of the Spirit mentioned 2 Cor. xii., the “inworkings of powers” should be specified. Is not the “ inwrought supplication of a righteous man which has great strength an illustration of these? In this direction seems to lie a rich portion of the inheritance of the saints, for ages waste and with scarcely an inhabitant, but open to and inviting possession.
But while the "clothing with power” is the one great comprehensive qualification, the words of Mark furnish a specific and detailed statement of the “signs” which shall accompany them that believenot the apostles, but those who through their preaching should believe and be immersed. In the name of their Lord Jesus they should cast out demons, they should speak in new tongues, they should take up serpents, and if they drank any deadly thing it should not hurt them; they should lay hands on the sick, and they should recover. This statement, as in that made to the seventy, was plainly designed to convey an idea of powers ample to meet every emergency. In one case specified, the drinking of poison without harm, we do not know
upon inspired authority that the power was ever tested in this form; but in other cases not covered by the expressed terms of the promise we know that power from on high did not fail. So full was the source and fountain of power that it supplied every stream, although those streams may have lost themselves in a land of drought, and are now to be traced but a little way from the head. But there is no intimation that the fountain should cease to flow; on the contrary, there is the assurance, “Lo! I am with you alway, unto the end of the world.” We are, indeed, told that prophesyings shall fail, and tongues shall cease, and knowledge shall be done away, as temporary and local manifestations, but must we say that the clothing with power for which the Lord prepared His own by cleansing them in His blood, and through the Word, has been taken away also ? Do His people now walk in nakedness and shame? To whom is that blessedness secured, yet future—the blessedness of the man who watches and keepeth his garments against the hour when the Lord cometh as a thief? The easily-acquiesced-in reference of all metaphorical language applying to clothing to the idea of imputed righteousness hinders the reception of the train of thought we have indicated, and which we venture to put forward as the truth. Clothing with righteousness is a figure; clothing with power is a fact. The figure is not without its meaning; but the fact is of real importance. There is a prospect of return to the first works whenever the disciples of the Lord in their day discern its meaning and seek its possession. The prophet's impassioned language may yet be verified. “Awake, awake; put on thy strength, o Zion; put on thy beautiful garments, 0 Jerusalem, the holy city. Shake thyself from the dust, arise, sit down, O Jerusalem : loose thyself from the bands of thy neck, O captive daughter of Zion."
Since the presence of the Lord was promised in all places and to all time, and the “power” was promised without reserve, it cannot be alleged that, because unbelief has turned away from it, therefore the blessing has failed. As a matter of fact the apostasy was developed in the attempts to continue through carnal and mechanical means the power which comes only to the spiritual. The same Lord of all is rich unto all who call upon Him, and if His people wait upon Him for "power,” they may well leave to His wisdom the form the “clothing shall assume.
Of this they may be well assured, that Divine power is as essential to any real and effective testimony, or any great and successful work in His Kingdom, as it ever was in apostolic days.
The necessary conclusions from the trains of thought followed in this paper have been indicated rather than affirmed, from the feeling that on such a topic the greatest sobriety of mind and caution are required. It is undeniable that the condition of Christendom, it might almost be said of Christianity, has long been one of powerlessness in spiritual manifestations, and it is also true that no bint was ever given of the withdrawal of spiritual powers except through the
unbelief of those who should have received them. The “clothing with power" was a garment designed never to wax old. In another paper we propose to show, by an analysis of the supernatural incidents recorded in the Acts of the Apostles, that their permanence was evidently contemplated, although their forms might be changed, and that, if not by a succession of signs and wonders, in a way quite as wonderful and evident the presence and power of the Lord Himself should be the strength of His disciples in all ages.
The Last Words of Notable Men.
Great. He died in the year 337, and was succeeded in the empire by his son Constantius, who died in the year 361, and yielded the imperial diadem to his cousin, Julian, commonly called “ The Apostate.”
This remarkable ruler was born in the ear 331, and was therefore about six years old at the time of his uncle Constantine's decease. In his last moments Constantine seems to have been haunted by the suspicion that he was dying of poison, administered through the instigation of one of his own relatives; and he employed some of his expiring moments in framing a scheme of Satanic revenge-leaving orders in his will that his brothers, nephews, and other relatives should be put to death. The horrid deed was executed, and only two escaped—the youth Julian, and his elder brother, Gallus, then about thirteen years of age. The latter died in the year 355, and Julian thus became, at the age of twenty-four, heir-apparent of the empire. The future Emperor, during his youth, was instructed in much of the secular as well as sacred knowledge of the times; and being both intellectual and industrious, he became a cultured, and even learned man. In early manhood he distinguished himself in military affairs, having made four campaigns against tribes of Germans, whom he drove out of the province of Gaul, and pursued across the Rhine; spending his winters in Lutetia, a place now famous through the world as the city of Paris. His cousin Constantius died—as we have said-in the year 361, and Julian, being now thirty years old, ascended the imperial throne. The Emperor very soon made it evident that his inclinations and designs lay far apart from the profession and practice of the Christian religion. As in the reign of Queen Mary a fierce struggle for victory was carried on between Protestants and Papists, the Queen