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PREFACE.

The Editor now concludes the last volume of the present Series of The MONTHLY REPOSITORY, and he cannot dismiss a work which has occupied his thoughts for Twenty-One Years without feeling some painful emotions. The work has been to him and many others a measure of time, and he is naturally led to reflect at the present moment on the number of friends who assisted at its commencement, but have been withdrawn to the land of forgetfulness (and some of them long) before its conclusion! Their memory will ever be cherished by him with esteem and gratitude.

Many are happily yet living to serve the cause of truth, who have contributed to lighten the Editor's labours and to make them successful, some few from the beginning of the work. These it would be a pleasure to him to name, if it were allowed. He must content himself, however, with giving them his cordial thanks, and expressing for them his best Christian wishes.

The Editor cannot flatter himself that in so long a period, and such a multifarious work, he has not committed errors and given offence; but he is entitled to say, that he has acted in every case of doubt as secmed to him best at the time, and therefore hopes for an indulgent review of his humble labours. If the testimony of friends does not mislead him, he may cherish the persuasion that The MONTHLY REPOSITORY has been in some degree serviceable to the cause of Christian Truth and Freedom : certainly, it has never been made the instrument of personal interests, or of any object which the Editor is not prepared to avow and defend in the face of the world.

Having so long endeavoured to fulfil his duty to the public, the Editor cannot be required to give any other explanation of his now resigning the work to other hands, than that he is desirous of devoting more of his remaining time to studies and pursuits more immediately connected with his profession.

The Subscribers are already informed that the New Series will be devoted to the same great ends as the Old; and the Editor is assured, from his knowledge of the new Conductors, that whatever learning, talents, industry and urbanity can effect towards the success of a periodical work, will be exemplified in the progress of the New Series of THE MONTHLY REPOSITORY.

A feeling of melancholy insensibly steals upon the heart whilst the pen is tracing a farewell address to friends, long united in important Christian labours; but the Editor will not conclude without performing the cheerful duty of commending his correspondents, subscribers and readers to the good Providence of Almighty God, the Father of Mercies !

November 28, 1826.

THE

Monthly Repository.

No. CCXLI.]

JANUARY, 1826.

[Vol. XXI.

IF

Observations on the Miracle recorded in John ix. the account of the cure and ex- matter of history, and not of suppoamination of the blind man, in the sition. ninth chapter of St. John's Gospel, Who was the subject of the alleged bears every mark of personal know- miracle? Although, till this moment, ledge on the part of the historian."

he had been a stranger to sight, he PALEY,

possessed, nevertheless, the use of the F a miracle precisely of this kind other senses, and of the faculties of

were reported to have been very his mind. “ He is of age,” said his lately wrought in our own neighbour- parents ; “ ask him; he shall speak for hood; if, on any decent authority, we himself;" * which he did with great were informed that a man said to have propriety and effect, in a manner which been blind from his birth had, on the clearly proved that he was master of sudden, received the sense of vision, his reason, and a competent judge of and had received it entire, and inde- his own situation, and of the questions pendently on any ordinary means of with which he was addressed. cure and relief, and professedly by a But had he, in fact, been born miraculous power exercised in his be- blind? This point too was naturally half; we should not, I presume, be and carefully examined by the adverindifferent to the report. * I have sup- saries of Jesus Christ.t The Jews posed that it comes to us on decent did not believe concerning him that authority; for which reason, we should he had been blind and received his hardly dismiss it without soine inves- sight, until they called his parents, of tigation. When no inquiry takes place, whom they made the inquiry. His there can be po enlightened judgment parents, however fearful they were of on the effect of evidence, no proper giving a reply which might seem to conviction, whether of truth or false- acknowledge any faith of theirs in the hood. Some men's unbelief las a Messiahship of Jesus, answer, sort of credulousness: for he who know that this is our son, and that without and against testimony, admits he was born blind.” Can evidence be Every report, and he who adinits not more decisive as to his identity and eren what unexceptionable testimony his former situation ? For the rest, sustains, possesso very different they refer the inquirers to their son states of mind; they have the same himself. want of discrimination, the same im- Here a third question is suggested : becility of intellect.

Was he actually blind at the time In the case which I have been put- when his benefactor is stated to have ting, what would be our points of ex- relieved him by a iniracle? Nor was amination? Should we not ask, Who this part of the case overlooked by the man was on whom a miracle is

our Saviour's foes; nor was the doubt said to have been wrought? Whether, (if indeed doubt had any existence) in fact, he had been born blind ? unresolved. The change in this perWhether he was blind at the time son's condition and appearance seems when his benefactor met him; and to have excited astonishment: and whether it afterwards appeared that the historian tells us, very artlessly he was, in truth, cured. Let us

and unaffectedly, that “the neighpursue these questions : let us ob-' bours who before had seen the man serve whether such inquiries were that he was blind, said, “Is not this made, and how they were answered, he who sate and begged?!” At first, in an instance which claims to be their opinions were rather divided on

this head: some said,

“ This is he;" Sermons by William Gilpin, Vol. III.

* Ver. 21. + Vers, 13, &c., 24. &c.

« We

No. 16.

VOL. XXI.

B

others said, “ He is like him ;” and out a miracle such applications would any suspicion of liis identity, if any aggravate and confirm, and not reinove, yet remained, was instantly done away the evil.-by his avowing, “I am he.” His Happily for the Christian cause, the answer to the inquiry, “ How were Pharisees, sifted the evidences and the thine eyes opened ?" proves, as does circumstances of this cure with the the inquiry itself, that up to this ino- utmost rigour. Still they could not ment he had been blind. Of the same deny the event-either its existence or purport, and conclusively to the same its quality. All which they could fi. fact, is his subsequent language, * nally object," was, that the miracle “ One thing I know, that, whereas I had been wrought on the Sabbath-day, was blind, now I see.”

that he who performed it was thereBut the most comprehensive and fore a sinner, that of such a cure there important question of all remains : it had been no previous example, and is, 'Whether we have evidence that the that the subject of it was a man of man was, in truth, cured? Now this humble rank; objections which could very inquiry was made on the spot weigh nothing against direct evidence. where the miracle is alleged to have If we exainine yet more carefully happened, at the time when it is said the language and deportment of the to bave been wrought, and in the individual who thus received his sigbt, presence of the persons who were and those of our Lord's eneinies, we most disposed and best able to scru- perhaps shall have a still fuller continize the report:

viction of the reality of the miracle. It cannot be immaterial to observe The account given by the patient that our Lord previously intimated his himself is this: "A man, who is calldesign of performing a miracle in fa- ed Jesus, made clay, and anointed vour of this individual, and, by this mine eyes, and said unto me, Go to intimation, courted the scrutiny which the bath of Siloam, and wash; and I his mighty deeds would bear: “I must went and washed and received siglat.” work the works of Him that sent me, Here we have an extremely plain and while it is day; the night cometh when inartificial testimony, in which he who no inan can work—as long as I am had been blind persevered, in despite in the world I am the light of the of all the endeavours that were used world;" its light in the highest and to make him retract it ; nay, though most interesting of all senses, but, at for continuing to bear it he suffered the saine time, in the act by which I the lesser excommunication, or was give sight to those who are literally cast out of the synagogue. In truth, blind !" When he had thus spoken, nothing can be inore pertinent than he proceeded to remove the blindness this man's answers to the questions of this individual: and should it be of the Pharisees; nothing, of the sort, objected that, in effecting the reinoval more judicious and convincing than of it, he seemed to employ means his remarks ; nothing more natural which some may regard as naturally and impressive than his acknowledgleading to that end, the answer is ob- ment of the Messiahship of him who vious—he used these signs, with the had poured the light of day on his view of denoting that he himself was recently sightless eye-balls. No wonthe instrument of Almighty God in der that he who uttered such langranting this extraordinary relief. guage + admitted the claims of Jesus,

The cure was so instantaneous and and prostrated himself before him, not perfect, that it could not have been in token of adoration, but in proof of brought about by merely hunan agen- his subunission to him, as his religious cy or outward remedies. Men who Lord and Teacher! by any ordinary applications receive There is soinething too in the whole their sight, after long and total blind- of what the Pharisees said and did, on ness, cannot however for a considera- this occasion, which denotes that vice ble time endure the rays of light, but and passion were now struggling with must be introduced to it by degrees, their judgment. They cannot meet and with the nicest caution. I may even intimate the probability that with- * Ver. 34. See the marginal transla

tion, and Bishop Pearce, in loc. Ver. 25.

+ Vers. 36–39.

of SIR, thiracle; while they take great pains Tied by the approbation of your

December 7, 1825. to bring it into doubt and suspicion, by means of objections which have correspondent Mr. Cogan, as expresno proper relation to the case. What sed in your Nuinber for October last, they say to the parents of the inan, to [XX. 606,] yet, I trust, that he will the man himself, and to Jesus, indi- allow me to differ from him on what cates the anger of persons who feel I conceive to be the purport of his rethat they are baffled and disappointed. mark on the term mystery. Nothing, They liave recourse to calumnies and I admit, can be more justly censurathreats and violence, the sure indica- ble than that love of the mysterious tions of a bad cause. How perfectly on subjects of religion by which many frivolous the plea, “This man is not theologians, Protestant' as well Roof God, because he keepeth not the inan Catholic, are unfortunately cha. Sabbath-day”! How significant the racterized; but, in my opinion, those act of excoinmunication, and how writers who deviate into the opposite self-condemnatory the declaration, extreme are not less obnoxious to re“Thou wast altogether horn in sin, prehension. From the language adoptand dost thou teach us?" Yet the ed by many Unitarians in particular, Pharisees were at the head of a nu. we might be led to imagine that the merous body of the Jewish people: term mystery ought to be for ever they were what our Lord termed them, abolished, and that it can never be “blind teachers of the blind;” and it consistently applied to any of the inwas by authority, not by argument, ferences of natural religion, or to any that they induced any of their coun- of the doctrines of pure Christianity. trymen to resist the power with which That it has been made a subterfuge by be acted, and the wisdom and persua- controversialists when pressed with sion with which he spoke.

difficulties which they find themselves If we compare the several parts of unable to answer, must be acknowthis narrative with each other, we ledged and lamented; but yet it is shall be sensible that it exhibits the perfectly obvious, that there are nustrongest marks of what Paley calls merous theological and metaphysical "personal knowledge in the histo- propositions to which it is impossible rian: it possesses a vividness and cir- to refuse our belief, thought, at the cuinstantiality of description, which same time, they confessedly exceed are incompatible with the supposition the limits of human comprehension. of its having beeu framed on any in- Nor is it to be disguised that there ferior authority. Such a comparison are some few, even, which wear the I have now instituted: let me hope semblance of contradiction, and which that, as the result of it, my readers are nevertheless require, if not the full more fully satisfied of the Evangelist assent, yet certainly the acquiescence John having been an eye-witness of of our imperfect understandings. In the event which he here records. a greater or less degree, inystery ap

I finish this series of remarks by pears to be inseparable from many adding, that Christianity invites, sus- doctrinal points of religion as well as tains, and will abundantly reward, in- of metaphysics ; and those who are vestigation. As the Pharisees by nar- the greatest enemies to the name, and rowly examining into the miracle be. who would fondly persuade themselves fore us established its reality, so the that they have banished it from their adversaries of the gospel, both in early creed, afford apposite examples of the and in succeeding times, have unde- fault they condemn. signedly but powerfully served the It is affirmed by a writer highly cause which they laboured to over. esteemed among the Unitarians, that throw.

the great advocates for the final exN. tinction of the impenitent after en.

during ages of torture, have been • Archbishop Newcome on our Lord's avowed members of that denomination Conduct, &c., p. 489, 2d ed.

of Christians; and yet there cannot exist a doubt that these individuals were firin belierers in the infinite juli

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