Occasional Papers eBook

Richard William Church
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 447 pages of information about Occasional Papers.
man’s moral nature in action, to check and reverse that course of universal failure manifest before; and this key is Christian doctrine.  “A stimulus has been given to human nature which has extracted an amount of action from it which no Greek or Roman could have believed possible.”  It is inconceivable that but for such doctrine such results as have been seen in Christendon would have followed; and were it now taken away we cannot see anything else that would have the faintest expectation of taking its place.  “Could we commit mankind to a moral Deism without trembling for the result?” Can the enthusiasm for the divinity of human nature stand the test of clear, unsparing observation?  Would it not issue in such an estimate of human nature as Mahomet took?  “A deification of humanity upon its own grounds, an exaltation which is all height and no depth, wants power because it wants truth.  It is not founded upon the facts of human nature, and therefore issues in vain and vapid aspiration, and injures the solidity of man’s character.”  As he says, “The Gospel doctrine of the Incarnation and its effects alone unites the sagacious view of human nature with the enthusiastic.”  And now what is the historical root and basis from which this one great moral revolution in the world’s history, so successful, so fruitful, so inexhaustible, has started?

But if, as the source and inspiration of practice, doctrine has been the foundation of a new state of the world, and of that change which distinguishes the world under Christianity from the world before it, miracles, as the proof of that doctrine, stand before us in a very remarkable and peculiar light.  Far from being mere idle feats of power to gratify the love of the marvellous; far even from being mere particular and occasional rescues from the operation of general laws,—­they come before us as means for accomplishing the largest and most important practical object that has ever been accomplished in the history of mankind.  They lie at the bottom of the difference of the modern from the ancient world; so far, i.e., as that difference is moral.  We see as a fact a change in the moral condition of mankind, which marks ancient and modern society as two different states of mankind.  What has produced this change, and elicited this new power of action?  Doctrine.  And what was the proof of that doctrine, or essential to the proof of it?  Miracles.  The greatness of the result thus throws light upon the propriety of the means, and shows the fitting object which was presented for the introduction of such means—­the fitting occasion which had arisen for the use of them; for, indeed, no more weighty, grand, or solemn occasion can be conceived than the foundation of such a new order of things in the world.  Extraordinary action of Divine power for such an end has the benefit of a justifying object of incalculable weight; which though not of itself, indeed, proof of the fact, comes with striking force upon the mind in connection
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Occasional Papers from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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