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• Apostles : inferior perhaps in splendour, inferior in number, &c.: ' and that this may have been the case, I am very ready to admit.
But the passage, as cited from Huss, would almost lead us • to think that the church in his days wrought scarcely any • miracles, or no miracles whatever. This, it is clear, is not St. Isidore's meaning.'
* (2.) But, secondly, from St. Isidore's context this will be • still clearer. Isidore is plainly speaking throughout the chapter [De Summo Bono, cap. 27] on the supposition that miracles continued to be wrought in his days. Thus he says, just before, • “Even in the Apostles themselves the grace of good works was more admirable than their miraculous powers; so, now also, in the church it is of more importance to live well, than to • work miracles.” Thus he no more denies miracles in his own days, than in the days of the Apostles. Afterwards he plainly recognises the use of miracles, at least for unbelievers : “Behold, a sign is not necessary for the faithful, because they have be• lieved already ; but for the unbelieving, that they may be
converted.” And, at the end of the chapter, he plainly speaks ! of the time when miracles should cease, as not come when he • wrote: “ Before Antichrist appears, powers and signs will cease ! from the church.” And that he regarded the time of Antichrist when miracles were to cease, as future, may be clearly
in his next chapter, where he expressly speaks of Antichrist as yet to come. He says, even, that there are many members • of Antichrist who shall not see the times of Antichrist. So
utterly insufficient is this proof from St. Isidore against miracles, * not to say "in the fifth century," but in any other.' pp. 29-31.
We have selected the references to the above-mentioned Fathers, Augustine, Chrysostom, and Isidore, to shew the comparative historical merits of Mr. Noel's Remarks and Mr. Boys's replies, and with the intention of recommending the latter to the further attention of every honest and cautious inquirer. Let the two publications be carefully examined and compared, and we fear nothing as to this (the historical) part of the controversy. Besides the above, Mr. Boys calls as witnesses from the Fathers, Justin Martyr, Irenæus, Origen, Tertullian, Minutius Felix, Lactantius [as collected by Grotius : See Poole's Synopsis on Mark xvi.], Athanasius, Ephraim the Syrian, Cyril of Alexandria, Austin, and St. Gregory ; before he proceeds to the Waldenses, to Wickliffe and his Lollards, to Huss and his Bohemians, to the Reformers, the United Brethren, and the church to the present day.
Before we entirely pass from a consideration of the opinions and experience of the church in the earlier ages, we must notice a strange mistake of Mr. Noel. In a note at page 4 he makes the following broad statement: 'No miraculous powers (with
VOL. VI.-NO. II.
the exception, perhaps, of the power to eject devils, in which there is obviously wide room for imagination) have, as I believe, been claimed in the church since the second century. If ever such a claim has been preferred, it has only been by persons sunk in abject superstition, as was the case with the miracle-workers of the eighth century,' &c.; and as authority for this statement he directs us to see Mosheim's Church History. Our readers can readily comply with this direction ; and if they do, we pledge ourselves that they will find, not the above opinion, but the following, in its proper place in that author: “ I cannot assent to the opinions of those who maintain that in this century (the fourth century) miracles had entirely ceased; and that at this period the Christian church was not favoured with any extraordinary or supernatural mark of a Divine power engaged in its cause!” So that Mosheim “ could not assent to the opinion” that miracles had ceased in the church, even two centuries after Mr. Noel supposed he had concluded that no claim was preferred to miraculous power but by persons “sunk in abject superstition!”
Mr. Boys's concluding remarks on the more modern evidence will give an idea of his labours :
I beg leave once more to remind the reader, that the ques* tion, as stated by our opponents, is not merely one of facts,
but of opinions. In other words, they not merely deny the 'actual occurrence of post-apostolic or of recent miracles; but 'go so far as to assert, with much face, that there has not been any belief or admission of such things, in the Christian church. Of these notions, the reader has in the last two chapters seen contradiction upon contradiction, in quotations or examples from Huss, Calvin, Martyr, Bucer, Pellican, Beza, Bullinger, • Luther, Musculus, Knox, Wisheart, Fox, Zuinglius, Baxter, • Cartwright, Hall, Rogers, Bengel, the United Brethren, and the Church of England. From these citations it is perfectly clear, that the admission and belief of miracles has never departed from the church; and thus the question of opinion is settled. But still, be it remembered, this is not all. We have seen gifts of healing in the church of the United Brethren. We have seen Knox and Wisheart predicting local occurrences. • We have seen Luther raising up Mecum and Melancthon. * These occurrences, and others of the same order, not merely determine what have been the opinions of the church, but prove, by incontrovertible facts, that it has not been left des•titute of miraculous experience.' pp. 330, 331.
The following is a very salutary caution to those who treat the present question with indifference: * Error unfortunately has ' taken advantage of the present controversy, to gain a further step. In opposing the opinion that miracles have occurred in recent times, the opportunity has been promptly seized to bring
: forward a notion, not generally held before, even by those who questioned this opinion; I mean, the notion that there have been no miracles since the days of the Apostles. This has accordingly been done; and done without rebuke, though in
absolute defiance of ecclesiastical history, so that we have the 'utmost need to be on our guard : for, if the present discussion ' fail of placing us on higher ground than before, and so setting * us right, there is the greatest danger of its leaving us lower; and the more so, because just now, in most matters of doctrine, our tendency is, unhappily, downwards.' p. 339.
So much having been said on both sides respecting the testimony of the Reformers, some of whose expressions' (as Mr. Boys candidly and correctly states), when viewed alone and
without explanation of circumstances, make very strongly for our opponents,' &c. we think it good to give one of the many dispassionate and conclusive statements of Mr. Boys, in elucidation of such apparently conflicting evidence. We dedicate the following to those friends of missions who choose the former part of the passage, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature," and yet who reject the latter, “ They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” expressions of the Reformers, apparently unfavourable to postA postolic miracles, may be explained by the views, commonly prevalent among them on the subject of the Apostolic com• mission. They thought that the commission to go forth and
preach the Gospel to all nations, was limited more or less exclusively, to the first ages : and the more strictly they held this . doctrine, the less likely would they be to regard miracles, in confirmation of the Gospel, as intended for any subsequent
period. They viewed the command,' Goye into all the world,' and the accompanying promise, “These signs shall follow,' as connected. And so far, they were right. They did not separate. Scripture, as the bulk of religious professors now do.
They did not regard the command as standing good, but the promise as withdrawn. Their conflict was internal. Their war with Papal error lay within the limits of Christendom. Had they been led to look without; had their attention been 'fixed upon the command to “ go forth," instead of being
withdrawn from it, as it necessarily was, by their struggle ' with the foe within the camp; had they possessed it as a truth settled in their minds, (which we see they did not,) that the work of evangelizing the world was not for the Apostles only, but for them and those who came after them to the end of time; we then probably should have found them equally clear ' in the assurance, that, for support in this work, miraculous • aids were still to be expected at the Lord's hands. And, from . all my researches hitherto, I think I may venture to say, that
. if the opponents of post-Apostolic miracles will shew me any one writer of credit amongst the Reformers, whose writings are of sufficient bulk to afford the means of fairly determining his sentiments, and who views the command to go forth, as in any degree standing good, I will undertake to shew, that in
the same degree he maintained or admitted the doctrine of mi'racles, as equally permanent. Thus modern professors, main
taining missions, and denying miracles, occupy a curious posi' tion, and are left quite alone.' pp. 105, 106.
Having thus accounted for expressions in the Reformers apparently unfavourable to the doctrine of miracles, by referring to the views commonly prevalent among them on the subject of the Apostolic commission, Mr. Boys proceeds still further to account for the same, 'By their opposition to the spurious ' miracles of Papists and fanatics, and by the continual chal
lenges addressed to them by their opponents, to prove by * miracles the truth of their doctrines. After these preliminary concessions and explanations, the author enters into the positive and conclusive testimony of the Reformers, which he examines at very considerable length; and thus sums up this part of his case. The last clause we particularly recommend to the consideration of the friends to the Reformation Society. Thus, the further
we examine, the more proof we find that the judgment of the ' Reformers, on the subject of miraculous manifestations, was one. They had every motive to guard theinselves on this topic, as
we have already seen. Accordingly, their language is, as ' it ought to be, cautious and qualified. But when they are brought to the test; when the course of their argument brings them to such a point, that they must speak out, and declare whether they think that God has wholly and finally withdrawn miraculous manifestations from his church, we never find them
making such an assertion; we never find them using language, 'which, fairly quoted, and viewed in connexion with circum'stances and the context, can be so interpreted. Some miracles they admit; others they maintain; and others again they alleged and record as witnessed or experienced by themselves. That miraculous faith was wholly excluded from the religious system of the Reformers is a fiction, no longer tenable • than their real sentiments are kept out of sight.-And here 'I cannot conclude without giving utterance to one reflec'tion. If there be persons, either so ignorant of what the * Reformers really were, or so prejudiced against the truth which
the Reformers taught, as to deny the fact of their having bad ' that qualified and well-guarded belief in miracles, which, after all, they really entertained ; if there be persons who would keep this truth from coming out; if there be persons who would restrict the utterance of it, and set themselves
against all who proclaim it, whether unsound in other points or sound : how imperfectly are such persons qualified for the management of a society, for promoting the religious doctrines of 'the Reformation !' pp. 238, 239.
Our next extract shall be taken from the author's own conclusion; and although the “ limitations” accompanying his decision appear to us mere truisms, we have no objection to give them, as they may save him from certain unpleasant and unpopular associations. We know well the danger of any Churchman indulging an opinion in favour of the present manifestations (the Act of Toleration does not extend to the gifts of the Holy Spirit): besides, we are not desirous of making a shew of many advocates, for what we deem the truth and work of God; and would not enlist even the honest and able author before us, without his full and free consent. He is sufficiently an object of suspicion for what he has done, without our making him a victim of persecution, by calling him one of us ;”, though, whilst we thus speak, we remember with gratitude and admiration the evidence given by Mr. Boys of a pure love and diligent pursuit of truth, which would, we believe, enable him, if all our convictions were his, to risk all consequences with us. Our opponents are welcome to the following concession, if they will grant us the final conclusions :
Though an assertor of recent miracles, I beg to have it remembered with what limitations. These will be found in different statements or admissions throughout my published
remarks upon the subject; such as that, in these latter times, . the exercise of miraculous powers has been less common or less
public, and miraculous manifestations have possessed a less distinguished character than heretofore; that all miraculous gifts are not asserted, whatever willingness may be felt to acknowledge them when they shall be satisfactorily manifested ; that I reject and abhor all false doctrines (whatever miraculous gifts may be alleged in support of them*, and whatever false doctrines besides may be held by some deniers of miracles), respecting the human nature of our holy Saviour, and the most saving mystery of the atonement; that I do not adopt or de fend every argument used for miracles; that the Reformers have ' used some expressions, which, viewed alone, and without ex
planation of circumstances, make very strongly for our opponents, &c. But, with all these concessions, I would still be ' understood as maintaining—that miraculous faith and miraculous experience have never wholly ceased in the church; that the
* Here, of course, our author would remember the essential test, 1 John iv. 1–3. To which (with other scriptural and spiritual tests) we can surely say all the doctrines we hold, and all the gifts we allege, do most harmoniously and faithfully respond.