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were spectators of it'. About the same time when he had set on fire a heathen temple, the flames spread to a house which joined it. Martin mounted on to the roof of the building that was in peril, and by his presence warned off the fire, and obliged it to confine itself to the work intended for it. At Paris a leper was stationed at the gate of the city; Martin went up and kissed and blessed him, and his leprosy disappeared.
St. Augustine, again, enumerates at the end of his De Civitate Dei, certain miracles which he himself had witnessed, or had on good authority,—such as these. An actor of the town of Curulis was cured of the paralysis in the act of baptism ; this Augustine knew on what he considered the best authority. A person known to Augustine who had received earth from the Holy Sepulchre, asked him and another Bishop to place it in some oratory for the profit of worshippers. They did so; and a country youth, who was paralytic, hearing of it, asked to be carried to the spot. After praying there, he found himself recovered and walked home. By the relics of St. Stephen one man was cured of a fistula, another of the stone, another of the gout; a child who had been crushed to death by a wheel, was restored to life; also a nun, by means of a garment which had been taken to his shrine and thrown over the corpse; and another female by the same means; and another by the oil used at the shrine; and a dead infant who was brought to it. In less than two years even the formal statements given in of miracles wrought at St. Stephen's shrine at Hippo were almost seventy.
These miracles are recorded by writers of the fourth century, though they belong, in one case wholly, in another partially, to the history of the third. When we turn to
I Sulpicius adds, “ Et vere ante “ Martinum pauci admodum, imo pæne “ nulli, in illis regionibus Christi no “ men receperant ; quod aded virtutibus
“illius exemploque convaluit, ut jam
earlier writers, we find similar assertions of the presence of a miraculous agency in the Church, and its manifestations have the same general character. Exorcism, cures, visions, are the chief miracles of the fourth century; and they are equally so of the second and third; so that the former have a natural claim to be considered the continuation of the latter. But there are these very important differences between the two; that the accounts in the fourth century are much more in detail than those of the second and third, which are commonly vague and general; and next, that in the second and third those kinds of alleged miraculous operation which are the most decisive proofs of a supernatural presence are but sparingly or scarcely mentioned.
Middleton's enumeration of these primitive miracles, which on the whole may be considered to be correct, is as follows,“ the power of raising the dead, of healing the sick, of cast“ing out devils, of prophesying, of seeing visions, of dis“ covering the secrets of men, of expounding the Scriptures, “ of speaking with tongues m.” Of these the only two which are in their nature distinctly miraculous are the first and last; and for both of these we depend mainly on the testimony of St. Irenæus, who lived immediately after the Apostolical Fathers, that is, close upon the period when even modern writers are disposed to allow that miracles were wrought in the Church. Douglas observes, “If we except the testimonies of “ Papias and Irenæus, who speak of raising the dead ... I “ can find no instances of miracles mentioned by the Fathers “ before the fourth century, as what were performed by “ Christians in their times, but the cures of diseases, par“ ticularly the cures of demoniacs, by exorcising them ; which “ last indeed seems to be their favourite standing miracle, “ and the only one which I find (after having turned over " their writings carefully and with a view to this point) they
m Page 72.
« challenged their adversaries to come and see them per“ form ."
It must be observed, however, that though certain occurrences are in their character more miraculous than others, yet that a miracle of degree may, in the particular case, be quite as clearly beyond the ordinary course of nature. Imagination can cure the sick in certain cases, in certain cases it cannot; and we shall have a very imperfect view of the alleged miracles, of the second and third centuries, if instead of patiently contemplating the instances recorded, in their circumstances and details, we content ourselves with their abstract character, and suffer a definition to stand in place of examination. Thus if we take St. Cyprian's description of the demoniacs, in which he is far from solitary', we shall find that while it is quite open to accuse him and others of misstatement, we cannot accept his description as it stands, without acknowledging that the conflict between the powers of heaven and the evil spirit was then visibly proceeding as in the time of Christ and His Apostles. “O would you listen to “ them,” he says to the heathen Demetrian, “and see them, “ when they are adjured and tormented by us with spiritual “ lashes, hurled with words of torture out of bodies they have “ possessed, when shrieking and groaning at a human voice, “ and beneath a power divine laid under lash and stripe, they “confess the judgment to come. You will find that we are “entreated of them whom you entreat, feared by them whom
you fear, and whom you adore. Surely thus, at least,
will you be brought to confusion in these your errors, " when you behold and hear your gods at once upon our “ questioning betraying what they are, and unable, even in “ your presence, to conceal their tricks and deceptions P.” Again, “You may see them by our voice, and through the “ operation of the unseen Majesty, lashed with stripes, and “ scorched with fire; stretched out under the increase of “their multiplying penalty, shrieking, groaning, intreating, “ confessing from whence they came, and when they de“ part, even in the hearing of their own worshippers; and “either leaping out suddenly, or gradually vanishing, as “ faith in the sufferer aids, or grace in the curer conspires 9.” Passages equally strong might be cited from writers of the same period.
* Page 232.
• For ancient testimonies to the power of exorcism, vid. Middlet. pp. 80–90. Douglas's Criterion, p. 232." note l.
Farmer on Miracles, pp. 241, 242,
P Treat. viii. 8. Oxford tr.
And there are other occurrences of a distinctly miraculous character in the earlier centuries, which come under none of Middleton's or Douglas's classes, but which ought not to be overlooked. For instance, a fragrance issued from St. Polycarp when burning at the stake, and on his being pierced with a sword a dove flew out. Narcissus Bishop of Jerusalem about the end of the second century, when oil failed for the lamps on the vigil of Easter, sent persons to draw water instead; which, on his praying over it, was changed into oil. Eusebius, who relates this miracle, says that small quantities of the oil were preserved even to his time. St. Cyprian speaks of a person who had lapsed in persecution, attempting to communicate; when on opening the arca, or receptacle in which the consecrated bread was reserved, fire burst out from it and prevented her. Another on attending at church with the same purpose, found that he had received from the Priest a cinder instead of bread.
Before quitting this review of Ecclesiastical miracles in the ancient Church, it will be right to mention certain isolated ones which have an historical character and are accordingly more celebrated than the rest. Such is the miracle of the thundering Legion, that is, the rain accorded to the prayers of Christian soldiers in the army of Marcus Antoninus when they were
a Treat. ii. 4. Oxford tr.
perishing by thirst; the appearance of the cross in the sky to Constantine's army, with the inscription “In hoc signo vinces ;” the sudden death of Arius close upon his proposed re-admission into the Church, at the prayers of Alexander of Constantinople; the discovery of the true cross, its multiplication, and the miracles wrought by it; the fire bursting forth from the foundations of the Jewish temple, which hindered its rebuilding; the restoration of the blind man on the discovery of the relics of St. Gervasius and St. Protasius; and the power of speech granted to the African confessors who had lost their tongues in the Vandal persecution r.
Imperfect as is this survey of the miracles ascribed to the ages later than the Apostles, it is quite sufficient for the purpose for which it has been made; viz. to shew that those miracles are on the whole very different in their character and attendant circumstances from the Gospel miracles, which are very far from preparing us for them, or rather at first sight indispose us for their receptions.
And in the next place this important circumstance must be considered, which is as clear as it is decisive, that the Fathers speak of miracles as having in one sense ceased with the Apostolic period ;—that is, (considering they elsewhere speak of miracles as existing in their own times,) they say that Apostolic miracles, or miracles like the Apostles', whether in their object, cogency, impressiveness, or character, were no longer of occurrence in the Church; an interpretation which they themselves in some passages give to their own words. “Argue not,” says St. Chrysostom,“ because mira
For other ancient testimonies to the Ecclesiastical miracles, vid. Dodwell. Dissert. in Irenæum. ij. 41-60. Middleton's Inquiry, pp. 2–19. Brook's Defens. Miracl. Eccl. pp. 16–22. Mr. Isaac Taylor's Anc. Christ. part 7.
. On the difference between the miracles of Scripture and of Ecclesiastical history, vid. Douglas's Crit. pp. 221–
237. Paley's Evidences, part i. prop. 2. Middlet. pp. 21–26.91-96, &c. Bishop Blomfield's Sermons, note on p. 82. Dodwell attempts to draw a line between the Ante-Nicene and the later miracles, in favour of the former, Dissert. in Iren, ii. 62–66, as regards testimony, nature, instrument, and object,