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MIRACLES. —One of the objections maintenance of any position, they have frequently urged against the claims of found that it was one which they ought Swedenborg as the messenger of the never to have held. And it is one of Second Advent of the Lord was that he the strongest grounds of our confidence wrought no miracles. This objection in Holy Scripture that in these inwas not unnatural when Christian apolo- stances a new examination of its books gists relied on the working of miracles has shown that it gave no support to as one of the strongest proofs of the the doctrine or method which has had truth of Christianity. Of late this to be abandoned. So it is with the reevidence has been strongly assailed. lation of miracles to Christian faith. The miracles have been severely criti. That order—miracles first, then the cised, and their sufficiency as evidence authority of the teacher—is not found of the supernatural boldly questioned. in the New Testament nor derived from The question, What is a miracle ? can. its pages. The scriptural theory of the not be avoided in the controversy which way in which Christian belief is created has arisen. A miracle has usually been is a very different one. defined as a suspension of a law of This statement is followed by the nature. The fixed character of natural statement that “the distinction belaws has led some to the incautious as- tween the natural and the supernatural, sertion that a miracle is an impossibility. which has formed so important an eleIn view of the marvels which are being ment in the modern arguments on this continually discovered, it is the extreme question, was not familiar to the minds of rashness to assert that a miracle is of the contemporaries of Jesus Christ, impossible. There are doubtless laws to whom nature itself was supernatural. of creative wisdom with which we are A miracle was a wonder, not a suspenyet upacquainted ; and the miracles of sion of a law of nature. But wonders
Scripture are neither a suspension were wonders, and were no doubt repor a violation of the laws of nature, garded as signs of Divine support or but an extraordinary manifestation of interference. And our Lord, acDivine power operating in and by these cording to the Gospels, did mighty laws. Few intelligent defenders of works, wrought signs and wonders. Christianity would at the present day But then it only becomes the more rerest the defence of the Gospel on the markable if we can perceive that the miracles. It has been said, and fre- main appeal was not made through the quently repeated, that whereas formerly wonders nor to the sense, whatever it miracles were held to prove the Gospel, was, that could appreciate the wonders, now it is the Gospel which proves the but to the moral or spiritual apprehenmiracles. Miracles, therefore, are now sions which could recognise grace and presented to faith, and the assurance of truth.” This truth the writer proceeds their truth arises from the moral grounds to illustrate from the Lord's teaching. of belief, and a perception of their rela. He opens His ministry, not bya miracle, tion to the spiritual laws and spiritual but in the words of John, who wrought wonders of Divine revelation and Chris- no miracle. He came proclaiming the tian experience.
kingdom of God and calling men to reWe have been led into these remarks pentance. The parable of " the Sower by an excellent paper on “Belief in is describing and analyzing the results Christ: its Relation to Miracles,” etc., of His preaching in Galilee. by the Rev. J. Ll. Davies, in the There is nothing in the parable to bring March number of the Contemporary miracles to the mind. Jesus marks the Review. Mr. Davies, after stating the hardness, the shallowness, the worldli. formerly popular argument from miracles ness which hinders the seed from beand the objections of the unbelievers, coming fruit; but there says truly : “ But it has often happened amongst His hearers neither hard, nor in the history of the Church that, when shallow, nor worldly, but with a heart Christians have been driven from the for the good announcement, who take it
in and keep it, and in whom it brings the subject. The opinions of the writers forth fruit.” The subject is pursued were various, but all seem to have con. through the fourth Gospel, the writer's demned some of the extravagances which review closing in the following sen- have attended these services. The pufftences :
ery of some of the advertisements, the “The question which we are consid- announcement of one of the agents as ering is definitely raised in the sixth “The Weeping Preacher," of another as chapter. Certain of the Jews said to “A Converted Prize-Fighter,” and a Jesus, "What sign showest Thou, that third as “A Converted Clown,” found we may see, and believe Thee? What little favour. Those who express the dost Thou work?' They wanted a most favourable opinions clearly mani. sign, for example, like that of the fest considerable misgivings; and these manna which fell from heaven in the misgivings, we have reason to know, wilderness. The answer of Jesus was in are widespread among intelligent minthe same tone as His answers to Nico. isters of the Congregational body: demus: 'I am the bread of heaven... All Christian work is now subjected But you have seen Me, and believe not. to close observation and thoughtful at. All that the Father giveth Me shall tention. It is not, as formerly, so ex; come to Me: and him that cometh to clusively accepted from its external Me I will in no wise cast out.' Always zeal and excited enthusiasm-it is judged the same thought, that He was come to by its fruits; and although some of the give blessing, and that only the filial- writers think these commendable, others hearted could receive the blessing. A have doubts respecting them.
The little further on He says, 'No man can Rev. Alexander Mackennal, B.A., says come to Me except the Father which that in Cornwall revivals are looked hath sent Me draw him ;' and again, upon almost with dread by those who "There are some of you that believe not. are not Methodists, and that in Forfar
Therefore said I unto you that shire—another county famous for reno man can come unto Me except it were vivals-ministers known to him, who given him of My Father.' What could have taken part in them, and who would miracles do to create the faith which do so again, have expressed grave doubts Jesus desired ? Nothing at all.' They as to the healthfulness of their influence might make men wonder; they might on the converts and the churches. The stimulate hungry and anibitious desires; growth of a more enlightened Christian but it was not in their nature to gene- sentiment, and a closer attention to rate repentance, or the desire of right. Christian progress, is gradually disineousness, or love. The sheep that really clining the more intelligent members follow the Good Shepherd do so be- and ministers of Christian churches for cause they hear His voice. They recog- these exciting services. Men are everynise the Master of their spirits in His where learning that religion appeals to gracious words, in His acts of sacrifice cultured intelligence as well as fervent on their behalf.'
emotion, and that its real progress is Into Mr. Davies' treatment of the only possible by the combined influence Lord's resurrection our space forbids us of religious instruction and spiritual to enter. On the general question of culture. miracles it will be seen that members of the New Church may avail themselves DAILY READING OF HOLY SCRIPTURE. of the sentiments so clearly stated' by –We cut the following from the Christhe writer of this article.
tian World. It is a wise and hopeful
direction of mission effort to induce the REVIVALS.— The extension of revival young to study the Word of Truth, and services has naturally excited attention to train them from their earliest years to to their utility, and to the prudence of the daily reading of the Sacred Scripsome of their proceedings. To afford tures: “ An interesting effort is being some of the more eminent ministers of made by what is known as the Children's the Congregational body an opportunity Special Service Mission to induce chilof expressing their opinions, the editor dren to agree to read every day a portion of the Congregationalist, following the of Scripture. A list of the passages example of the Nineteenth century, selected by the Committee is sent, I beopened his pages for a Symposium on lieve, every month to the youthful mem
bers of this 'Scripture Union. As an are certainly preparing them to aid to the cultivation of early piety, and stand alone.” as conducive to the systematic study of the Scriptures, the formation of this VIENNA.-In our report of the pro
Union will be regarded by Christian ceedings of the last session of the General parents and teachers generally with Conference we noticed the suspension of warm interest. Branches, it is hoped, the mission at this city, and the forcible will be established throughout the king- dissolution of the Society by the muni. dom.
cipal authorities. We have received
from John Fletcher, Esq., of Stone. MADAGASCAR.-One of the principal clough, near Manchester, who has refields of the labours of the London cently visited Vienna, some particulars Missionary Society has been Madagascar. respecting the Society and the distress Here, many years since, the native of its pastor, to which we invite the Christians were subjected to a fearful attention of the members of the New persecution; and the Christian Church Church in England. The Church in England and elsewhere was painfully throughout the world is one body, affected by the reports of the cruel united by the one Divine life of love martyrdoms to which the Madagascar to the common Saviour and charity Christians were exposed, and in which towards all the brethren. If one branch they passed to their reward with all of the Church suffers, other portions of the constancy and heroism of "the the general body sympathize in its noble army of martyrs” of the primitive afflictions. Our efforts may fail to Church. The work of the Society has obtain for our brethren the restoration in recent times been again renewed. of their public worship, with its attenMemorial churches have been erected, dant privileges and blessings, but we and the labours of the missionaries more can at least offer temporary pecuniary widely extended. The
Church of Eng- assistance to their esteemed pastor, land, the Society of Friends, and the who suffers loss by this action of the Roman Catholics have also missionaries authorities. The following is Mr. on the island, the Friends working Fletcher's letter: “Having had occacordially with the Independents. The sion to visit Vienna, I took an opporRev. W. E. Cousins, of the London tunity of waiting on the Rev. Hermann Missionary Society, who has been two Peisker, Hermannsgasse 33, Thür 19, to years in England, in his letter to the obtain some information as to the directors, written since his return, thus troubles the New Church Society had speaks of the progress of the island : got into. I had several long conversa"I find the Prime Minister has been tions with Mr. Peisker, and I found moving forward very rapidly, and, has they commenced worshipping as made important changes in regard to Society in the year 1872; and, accordthe administration of justice, etc. The ing to the laws of Austria, they deposited compulsory registration of births and a copy of their rules, which were not deaths, of marriages, of contracts, sales objected to, at the Town Hall. The of land, etc., the prohibition of poly- Society continued to worship and celegainy and divorce, and certain laws brate marriages and baptisms until the regulating the slave trade, are a clear year 1876, when a number of the memgain to the cause of civilization and bers were arrested and taken before the progress. The relations of the Govern- magistrates, but were discharged. On ment to our work generally seem to be what pretext they were arrested does very friendly, and with prudence and not seem to be well understood. The patient teaching we may yet secure to members continued to meet for worship, the native churches a very large amount and to celebrate marriages and baptisms of liberty. There appears to be a grow. until last August, when_the Society ingly clear apprehension of the differ- received a letter from the Police Courts ence existing between the spheres of the requesting the members to meet there State and of the Churches. On the at a given time. They accordingly whole, the work seems strong and went, and were told that they could healthy; and although the native not be permitted to carry on worship Christians may long need our friendly any longer, the reason assigned being help both in guidance and in money, that they had not carried out their rules,
nor were they acknowledged as a religious what his former position (New Church Society by the State. The police then minister) had been, he was refused, and took all their furniture and books, etc., anything else he had taken in hand in from their meeting-room, and the funds the way of employment had been stopped. in hand, about £30. Mr. Peisker has When he went to Vienna he had a little sent a petition to the authorities com money saved, but it had all gone, and plaining of such a cruel proceeding, and he was now earning a little by giving a praying that they might be allowed to few private lessons. From the appearconduct their worship as usual. To ance of his home (a little room about this petition, which should have received the fifth floor in a block), I should say a reply, according to law, in about thirty he is in very distressed circumstances, days, no reply, up to the time of my having a wife and three little children; leaving Vienna, had come to hand. Mr. and I feel that it would be doing the Peisker had, however, heard that the right thing to help him along if possible reply had been received from Govern- till he can officiate again as minister, or ment by the city authorities, and that at least get a final reply from the Govern. it was against the Society. I saw ment.” Mr. Fletcher offers to contribute several members of the congregation, £5 towards a subscription to assist Mr. and their statements quite coincided Peisker in his present painful circumwith Mr. Peisker's. It seems from the stances. This is, doubtless, the right first commencement in 1872 before thing to do, and to do promptly. We each service they had to give three shall gladly receive any subscriptions in days' notice to the authorities, and a aid of this object, or they may be forpoliceman or other representative from warded to the treasurer of Conference, the Town Hall has been present at every Richard Gunton, Esq., 19 Oseney Cresmeeting, whether for worship or other cent, London, N., for immediate transmeetings, and that this man has signed mission to Mr. Peisker. each marriage-contract. If the Society were transgressing the law, why did not MAURITIUS.-A correspondent sends the authorities find it out sooner, and us from Malta the following extract not allow seven years to lapse, and each from a letter he has recently received meeting to be sanctioned by their own from the Mauritius, which will doubt. official? I called at the British Embassy, less interest our readers.
During a but did not succeed in seeing the British passing visit at the Mauritius Minister, who was absent. I had an correspondent had no opportunity interview, however, with the chaplain, of attending service, as he was not who received me with Christian courtesy there on a Sunday: The following is and kindness, but was powerless to aid the extract: “We have had a subscripin the matter. The opinion I formed tion lately in our small Society to pay is, that the only way to assist the friends off our debt of £500, and we raised £400, in Vienna would be to get up a petition or very nearly that figure, and this, i to the Austrian Minister in London, think, was doing well considering the few and follow it up with a good influential we were. At Christmas our congregation, deputation. The members in Vienna including children, was about seventy, are utterly powerless. If they are to be and we had, I think, thirty communiassisted, help must come from the out- cants. Our President, M. de Chazal, side. I consider they have been hardly was unable to attend through illness, treated. So far as I can learn they have and the service was conducted by one of not, certainly not intentionally, com. our oldest members, M. Lesage, who did mitted the slightest wrong, or violated it very well. I trust all were benefited any of the laws. Before leaving Vienna by it." a number of the members waited on me at my hotel, and, after repeating the BIRMINGHAM.-Sunday the 9th March story of their wrongs, begged that I was specially interesting to the Sunday would lay the matter before the New scholars, and to many of the congreChurch in England, in the hope that gation who assembled in the church some steps might be taken to get matters prior to morning service for the purpose put right again. Dr. Peisker told me of witnessing the baptism of the second he had tried to get permission to keep group of young adults, who, in cona school, but immediately it was known sequence of doctrinal instruction in the
schools, and of their own free request, With the abundance of natural knowwere baptized by the Rev. R. R. ledge has come an unfolding of spiritual Rodgers. On the former occasion seven, and Divine knowledge never known beand on this occasion twelve (all scholars fore, and therefore the highest use of excepting one—a former teacher), were Sunday was found in the prayer and baptized. The following hymn, praise that lead to spiritual culture by specially written for the occasion, was the now revealed knowledge of truth. sung after the ceremony :
In the second lecture it was shown that
attributes alone distinguish the identities BAPTISM OF YOUNG ADULTS. of all things. In these the Divine is March 9th, 1879.
distinct and personal from His creation.
Attributes without substance and form WRETHAM ROAD CHURCH, BIRMINGHAM.
are unthinkable; therefore wherever Behold Thy young disciples, Lord, attributes are found there also must be Who gather here with sweet accord; Around the sacred font we kneel,
substance and form, for if the converse be Our simple faith in Thee to seal;- true, which is manifestly so, then also is
the deduction. It was shown that not To seal, by that most holy
only do attributes distinguish things Of sprinkled water,-rite Divine ! To bow in baptism, e'en as Thou
from one another, but that the subBeneath the hand of John didst bow ! stances and forms of things are nothing
but their attributes made by force, or And as we humbly thus fulfil In this first sacrament, Thy will,
by the action of life in the elements of Oh, bid Thy Holy Dove descend,
things. The elemental world is a world And let Thy voice our deed cominend ! of forces only, but the vegetable and
animal worlds are worlds of life, where, And may this outward washing be True sign of inward purity,
from within germ and matrix, life To shine in us, in soul and face,
builds up and organizes all that constiThe work and evidence of grace.
tute the substances and attributes of the 'Tis by Thy mercy we are brought
myriads of subjects of these living Where Thy most Holy Word is taught; worlds. But one thing is obvious of So help us more that Word to prize, them all, which is this, that as soon as Which opens heaven to longing eyes.
the subjects of these kingdoms have ful. Now, by this simple rite begun,
filled their functions as subjects they May every higher good be won;
begin to perish. The attributes of man, And may Thy baptism each desire,
seated in his own consciousness, extend Of Holy Spirit and of fire !
far beyond physics. The animal world February 28th, 1879.
affords the strongest proof that mere
brain cannot comprehend the man. Bolton.—The minister ofthis Society, Here are attributes, notwithstanding the the Rev. Thomas Mackereth, F.R.A.S., marvellous capabilities of animal inhas just completed a course of lectures stinct, that demand something more at the church on the following sub- than a physical subject, substance, jects : (1) " A Swedenborgian's View of and forin. With the growth of years the Uses of Sunday;” (2) “ The Nature man's loves and affections become purer, and Immortality of the Human Soul;” holier, and higher; his thoughts fro (3) “The Nature and Character of Divine rational become staid and wise. The Revelation;" (4) "The Law of the In; knowledge which he loves with advancterpretation of the Sacred Scriptures." ing years is of the highest and most The attendance at all the lectures was useful order. When he shall have fulgood, and many strangers were present. filled his functions with these attainThe church was comfortably filled at ments he shall perish too; but as the the lecture on the Human Soul, and whole life of man's mind is progressive much satisfaction was expressed by to its close, reason is bound to admit strangers with the arguments and eluci- that the end of man is an indeterminate dations of the subject. In the first lec- equation. There is therefore no reason ture it was shown that Sunday was not why he shall not live for ever. “Well merely a substitute for the Sabbath, and done, good and faithful servant; thou for prayer and praise to the Lord, but hast been faithful over a few things, that it is now, and will become more so, I will make thee ruler over many a day for instruction in Divine things. things: enter thou into the joy of thy