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first exercise must have excited, in the breathless crowds which it collected, in the flood of human feeling which it caused to gush forth around him, and concentrated upon him, to what a soul-searching trial was he exposed! The humble peasant beheld men as wax in his hands, to be moulded at his pleasure. Why was he never betrayed out of the meekest selfpossession by the dazzling thought of the influence which he might obtain? Never was he deluded into thinking how much good he might do by taking advantage of the impression he had made to exalt himself and fortify his own personal influence. This is the delusion to which men of the strongest minds and the purest intentions have fallen victims. By honest and enthusiastic promises to themselves of the good to be accomplished thereby, they have been hurried into a questionable use of their peculiar gifts, into the employment of very doubtful means. But no cloud of this sort ever dimmed for an instant the clear mind of Jesus, or alloyed that patient all-enduring love, in subordination to which his extraordinary opportunities were used. Imposing as were the demonstrations of popular favour at his astonishing career, the singleness of his benevolent purpose was never distracted by the least inclination towards human applause, by the least desire to excite and gratify human wonder, under the plausible idea of doing a world of good. Conscious, as he must have been, of an extraordinary authority, while he used it for no selfish end, he waited patiently, without weariness or haste, upon the providence on which he relied, never counting the cost to himself, nor caring how much he might be
DENY HIS POWER, YOU IMPAIR A GREAT MORAL IDEA. 175 misunderstood and misrepresented. He seems, once for all, to have "dismissed every wish to stipulate for safety with his destiny." He, who miraculously fed thousands, not only endured hunger and thirst without a murmur, but sought to avoid and allay the excitement of those very thousands, when it was tending to his personal elevation. He, at whose word sickness and death vanished, fainted and expired in the most excruciating agony. Inwardly conscious of glory which was from eternity and of God, he submitted to be enveloped in a cloud of shame, which only grew darker and darker as he advanced, and gathered in blackness round his latest moments. The outcast, loathed leper, the wretched maniac, the poor, and blind, and lame who lay by the way-side; these it was, and such as these, in whose service and relief this wonderful being used his extraordinary gifts. How simple and all-unmixed must have been the benevolence which was never diverted from its true objects, never corrupted by the ever-present, powerful, and unprecedented inducements to self-display.
The whole moral idea of the character of Jesus must, I conceive, be impaired-its intense glory fades away, when we consider it disconnected from his extraordinary power. It loses the greatness and depth it possesses as the character of a being of unparalleled endowments, consecrating his great gifts to the service of poor, ignorant, unworthy men; not only consenting to relinquish all the worldly power and influence which he might so easily have secured, but doing it with the utmost meekness; never magnifying the surrender, always apparently accounting it
his greatest privilege, his highest glory, that he was able thus to do and endure at every personal sacrifice. For my own part, I hold cordially to the belief in his miraculous power, not, if I know myself, from any fondness for the marvellous, not because the miracles, as mere instances of physical power, have any peculiar charm for me, but because the conviction of the indwelling of this wonder-working power in Jesus, heightens my sense of moral greatness. It is indispensable to the vividness and completeness of a glorious spiritual idea. I love to view him as one who, in the unequalled gifts and graces of his own nature, possessed the means of achieving for himself a magnificent destiny. Under the plausible idea of elevating the world, he might have justified to himself the employment of any measures for the promotion of his own power. But he went quietly and sublimely on, unconsciously foregoing every personal claim, consenting to be not only the active friend, but the meek, faithful, all-enduring, unrequited servant of his fellow-men, spending in their behalf not only his great power, but himself his own precious life. It is this that renders his character unspeakably perfect and kindling. It is by far the noblest demonstration, yet given to the world, of love superior to the most cunning blandishments of power.
There is another trait of the miracles of Jesus which is worthy the deepest attention. It appears to me that they illustrate not more impressively the purest love than the profoundest wisdom. Every reader of the New Testament must have been struck with the importance which Jesus attaches to faith as
THE UNDERSTANDING, BUT NOT CHIEFLY.
an indispensable preliminary to the exercise of his extraordinary power. He demanded that those who applied to him for relief should first have entire confidence in him. "Believe-all things are possible to him who believeth." He would not exert his power, where his authority was not first recognized. In one place "he would not do many mighty works because of their unbelief." In some minds, this mode of proceeding has awakened the suspicion that he did not dare to put his claims to miraculous power to a close and scrutinizing test.* And surely according to the usual representation of his miracles, considering them principally as evidences wrought to attest his divine mission, it may with no little plausibility be asked whether the unbelief prevalent in any particular place were not the chief reason why he should put forth his power, and not why he should forbear to exercise it. To my mind this question has no force, because it is urged upon a false, or at least a very questionable ground. It goes upon the idea that the miracles of Jesus were the merest evidences, wrought for no higher end than to prove his authority; for no greater purpose than to convince the understandings of those who chanced to be the spectators. This is the most common view of them I know. But I doubt very much its correctness. It is true, (as I observed at the close of the last chapter,) Jesus referred to his works
* How seriously this difficulty has been felt, and with what success it has been met, may be gathered from a discourse entitled, "On Christ's requiring Faith in order to his miraculous Cures," by Foster, immortalized in Pope's well known panegyric. See "Discourses on all the principal Branches of Natural Religion and Social Virtue," by James Foster, D. D.
as evidences and attestations of his divine commission. And they may be considered under this aspect. But to deem this the only, or the most important light in which they may be viewed, I hold to be the dictate of a narrow, finite, and superficial philosophy; and it is fatal, in my humble opinion, to their truth to regard them thus. I should seriously doubt their reality, if they were capable of being considered from no higher point of view. When you describe them only as evidences, you represent them as wrought, not for their own sakes, not for any intrinsic worth, but-for it amounts to this-merely for effect. And although it is no less a faculty than the human understanding, which was to be wrought upon, still I cannot feel that they are truly and worthily apprehended, when they are so described. I am conscious of a nobler power, a diviner element in my nature, than that which concerns itself with arguments, proofs, reasonings. I have a moral or spiritual, as well as an intellectual faculty; a sense of the lovely, the beautiful, the perfect. And whatever admits not of an appeal to that, lacks the strongest test of truth. I look forth upon the works and ways of God, and I perceive that every existing thing has a relation, not only to my understanding, but also to this higher principle of my nature -in popular language, to my heart, my soul. The flower is not merely an argument addressed to my It has a moral, spiritual significance for my deeper affections. Everything that comes from God admits of being viewed in a light, which reveals in it a spiritual worth and beauty. So then, if you maintain that certain facts have taken place in the providence,