Imatges de pàgina

that truth had as yet been received. They are grave and simple in their circumstances, because they are wrought by persons who know their gift, and, as being under immediate Divine direction, use it without alloy of human infirmity or personal peculiarity. They are definite and certain, drawn out in an orderly form, and finished in their parts, because they were found in that authoritative Document which was intended by God's Providence to be the pattern of His dealings and the rule of our thoughts and actions. They are undeniably of a supernatural character, not only because it is natural that the most cogent miracles should be wrought in the beginning of the Dispensation, but because the Sacred Writers have been guided to put into the foreground those works of power which are the clearest tokens of a Divine Presence, and to throw the rest into the distance. They have no marks of exaggeration about them, and are none of them false or suspicious, because Inspiration had dispersed the mists of popular error, and the colouring of individual feeling, and has enabled the writers to set down what took place and nothing else. But when once Inspiration was withdrawn, whether as regards those who wrought or those who recorded, then a Power which henceforth was mysterious and inscrutable in operation, became doubly obscure in report; and fiction in the testimony was made to compensate for incompleteness in the manifestation.

In conclusion I will but observe, what, indeed, is very obvious, but still may require a distinct acknowledgment, that the view here taken of the primitive miracles is applicable in defence of those of the medieval period also. If the occurrence of miraculous interpositions depends upon the presence of the Catholic Church, and if that Church is to remain on earth until the end of the world, it follows of course, that what will be vouchsafed to Christians at all

times, was vouchsafed to them in the middle age inclusively. Whether this or that alleged miracle be in fact what it professes to be, must be determined, as in the instances already taken, by the particular case; but it stands to reason, that, where the views and representations drawn out in the foregoing pages are admitted, no prejudice will attend the medieval miracles at first hearing, though no distinct opinion can be formed about them before examination.

On the other hand, I am quite prepared to find those views themselves condemned by many readers as subtle and sophistical. This is ever the language men use concerning the arguments of others, when they dissent from their first principles,—which take them by surprise, and which they have not mastered.

The limits of the page did not allow me in note g, p. clvii, to add what seemed to myself the most likely interpretation of St. Luke's statement of our Lord's leading His Apostles as far as Bethany before He ascended. The seeming inconsistency in the statements, that Bethany, (as in the Gospel,) and that Olivet, (as in the Acts,) was the place of our Lord's ascension has before now been urged against the sacred writer by infidels, but with such objectors we are not here concerned. For the believer perhaps it will suffice to compare the passage in St. Luke's Gospel with the termination of St. Mark's, where it is said, “ Afterwards," that is, on the evening of the day of the Resurrection, our Lord “ appeared unto the “ Eleven as they sat at 'meat; . . . and said unto them, Go ye into all the “ world, &c. ..

... so then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was “ received up into heaven." It may be argued then, that as St. Mark, in spite of the sequence of these words, does not fix the date of the Ascension upon Easter-day, neither does St. Luke, by saying that Christ“ led out “His disciples as far as Bethany and blessed them, and, while He “ blessed them, was parted from them,” fix the place of the Ascension at Bethany. Nay the same argument may be drawn from the very passage in St. Luke, which on the face of it certainly speaks as if our Lord ascended when He appeared to the Eleven on the evening of the day of the Resurrection. And the explanation of both statements is the confessedly abrupt and elliptical style of the sacred historians, who single out certain detached points in the continuous series of events through which the action of the history moved when it really occurred, and combine them for such purposes as seemed good to Him who inspired them. Instances of this peculiarity abound both in the Old and New Testament, and impart to the sacred text that ecclesiastical or mythical character, which is so solemn and elevating, yet so unsatisfactory to the more intellectual critic. Thus understood, St. Luke must be taken to say in the Gospel, that our Lord took the disciples as far as Bethany, and next, that He ascended; omitting the intermediate fact which he supplies in the Acts, that after visiting that spot so dear to Him during His ministry, He came back to the place whence He had seen the city and wept over it, and thence ascended. And perhaps St. Luke's expression, “ as far as Bethany," is intended to express the extent of circuit or visitation of beloved places, through which He passed scattering blessings, ere He departed.

It is remarkable that the Bourdeaux Pilgrim, A. D. 333, vid. Wesseling Itinerarium, p. 589_596, whose silence about the Cross is sometimes brought in corroboration of Eusebius's silence above noticed, vid. Gibbon, Hist. ch. 23. note 64, is silent also about the place of Ascension, and St. Helena's church there, though no one denies this part of St. Helena's history. Vid. Euseb. V. Const. iii. 42, 43. So unsafe is it to argue from a negative.

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