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§ 4. The Value of Miracles as a Proof of a Divine Revelation.

On this subject extreme opinions have been held. On the one hand, it has been maintained that miracles are the only satisfactory evidence of a divine revelation; on the other, that they are neither necessary nor available. It is argued by some that, as faith must be rounded on the apprehension of truth as truth, it is impossible that any amount of external evidence can produce faith, or enable us to see that to be true which we could not so apprehend without it. How can a miracle enable us to see a proposition of Euclid to be true, or a landscape to be beautiful? Such reasoning is fallacious. It overlooks the nature of faith as a conviction of things not seen on adequate testimony. What the Bible teaches on this subject is 636(1.) That the evidence of miracles is important and decisive (2.) That it is, nevertheless, subordinate and inferior to that of the truth itself. Both of these points are abundantly evident from the language of the Bible and from the facts therein contained. (1.) That God has confirmed his revelations, whether made by prophets or Apostles, by these manifestations of his power, is of itself a sufficient proof of their validity and importance as seals of a divine mission. (2.) The sacred writers under both dispensations appealed to these wonders as proofs that they were the messengers of God. In the New Testament it is said that God confirmed the testimony of his Apostles by signs and wonders and divers miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost. Even our Lord himself, in whom the fulness of the Godhead dwelt bodily, was approved by miracles, signs, and wonders which God did by Him. (Acts ii. 22.) (3.) Christ constantly appealed to his miracles as a decisive proof of his divine mission. “The works,” he says, “which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.” (John v. 20, 36.) And John x. 25, “The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me;” and in verse 38, “Though ye believe not me, believe the works.” John vii. 17, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Undoubtedly the highest evidence of the truth is the truth itself; as the highest evidence of goodness is goodness itself. Christ is his own witness. His glory reveals Him, as the Son of God, to all whose eyes the God of this world has not blinded. The point which miracles are designed to prove is not so much the truth of the doctrines taught as the divine mission of the teacher. The latter, indeed, is in order to the former. What a man teaches may be true, although not divine as to its origin. But when a man presents himself as a messenger of God, whether he is to be received as such or not depends first on the doctrines which he teaches, and, secondly, upon the works which he performs. If he not only teaches doctrines conformed to the nature of God and consistent with the laws of our own constitution, but also performs works which evince divine power, then we know not only that the doctrines are true, but also that the teacher is sent of God.

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