Miracles, Ecclesiastical

Miracles, Ecclesiastical.

The Port Royalists taught that "there would never have been any false miracles if there had been none true." Many Protestants, taking hold of this wise adage, set down as incontrovertible the assertion that the so-called "miracles" wrought in the Church since the patristic period are not of God, because they are not prophesied as were those of the Israelitish and apostolic days (see Ex 3:12; Mr 16:17-18), and that, as Dr. Hodge has it "while there is nothing in the N.T. inconsistent with the occurrence of miracles in the post-apostolic age of the Church... when the apostles had finished their work, the necessity of miracles, so far as the great end they were intended to accomplish was concerned, ceased" (Syst. Theol. 3:452).

This position of Protestant writers seems to gain strength from a close examination of the practices of the early patristic period, for it is an uncontested statement that during the first hundred years after the death of the apostles we hear little or nothing of the working of miracles by the early Christians. Says bishop Douglas, "If we except the testimonies of Papias and Irenaeus, who speak of raising the dead... I can find no instances of miracles mentioned by the fathers before the 4th century" (Criterion, pages 228-232); and if we come down to the fathers of the 4th century, we find that they freely speak of the age of miracles as past; that such interpositions, being no longer necessary, were no longer to be expected. Whatever may appear to the contrary in the more oratorical and panegyrical writings of the fathers, whenever they address themselves theologically to the question of miracles, they admit clearly and unreservedly the truth that this kind of evidence has ceased in the Christian Church. The miracles of divine. power (according to St. Augustine) are now to be sought in the works of nature, in the wonders of its ever- recurring changes, and in the regular course of the divine providence. After enumerating the miracles of Christ, he asks, "Cur (inquis) ista modo non fiunt? Quia non moverent nisi mira essent; at si solita essentia mira non essent" (De Utilitate Credendi), which he only so far qualifies in his retractions as not absolutely to deny the possibility of a modern miracle. In another place he speaks of "miracles not being permitted to last to our times," or to survive the propagation of Christianity over the world (De vera Relogione, c. 25, § 47). St. Chrysostom bears the same testimony to the cessation of miracles in his beautiful sermons on the Resurrection and on the Feast of Pentecost (Ser. 32 and 36), where he solves the same question "Why are no signs and miracles intrusted to us now?" — by claiming those higher miracles of grace and inward change which enable us to use the prayer of faith, and to exclaim, "Our Father, which art in heaven!" Chrysostom says himself: "Ne itaque ex eo, quod nunc signa non fiunt, argumentum ducas tune etiam non fuisse. Etenim tune utiliter fiebant, et nunc utiliter non fiunt" (In Epistolam i. ad Corinth. Homil. 6:2; comp. Augustine, De Civitate Dei, 22:8, 1). Yet these fathers also supply us with accounts of deeds wrought by Christian believers, which the Roman Catholic Church has pleased to stamp as miraculous, but which these early writers of the Church mark out clearly as natural results. If indeed they pleased to call them miracles, they yet betray that even in their own view there was a vast difference between the scriptural and ecclesiastical miracles, and that they did not count them as of the same category. St. Augustine, referring to the wonderful deeds wrought by the faithful of the Church in his day, concedes also that they were not wrought with the same lustre as in the apostolic days, nor with the same significance and authority for the whole Christian world (comp. Fr. Nitzsch, jun., Augustinus' Lehre vom Wunder [Berlin, 18651, page 32 sq.). Bishop Douglas says that these miraculous workings were confined to "the cures of diseases, particularly the cures of daemoniacs, by exorcising them; which last indeed seems to be their favorite standing miracle;" and Prof. Newman, one of the richest prizes gained by the Romanists from the Church of England in this generation, is candid enough to admit the contrast between the scriptural and what he calls ecclesiastical miracles. He says, "The miracles of Scripture are, as a whole, grave, simple, and majestic: those of ecclesiastical history often partake of what may not unfitly be called a romantic character, and of that wildness and inequality which enters into the notion of romance." "It is obvious," he says elsewhere, "to apply what has been said to the case of the miracles of the Church, as compared with those in Scripture. Scripture is to us a garden of Eden, and its creations are beautiful as well as very good; but when we pass from the apostolic to the following ages, it is as if we left the choicest valleys of the earth, the quietest and most harmonious scenery, and the most cultivated soil for the luxuriant wilderness of Africa or Asia, the natural home or kingdom of brute nature uninfluenced by man" (Two Essays on Scripture Miracles and on Ecclesiastical, 2d ed. Lond. 1870, pages 116, 150). Dr. Hodge, in commenting upon Romish miracles, quotes these words of Prof. Newman, and says of them, "A more felicitous illustration can hardly be imagined. The contrast between the Gospels and the legends of the saints is that between the divine and the human, and even the animal; between Christ (with reverence be it spoken) and St. Anthony" (3:455). The Roman Catholic Church, notwithstanding the want of any trustworthy patristic testimony, asserts that the power of performing all manner of miraculous works remains with the Church since the days of its first founding, henceforth and forever. "Roman Catholics," says Butler, "relying with entire confidence on the promises of Christ [quoting Ac 2:3 sq.; Joh 14:12; Mr 16:17-18], believe that the power of working miracles was given by Christ to his Church, and that it never has been, and never will be withdrawn from her" (Book of the Rom. Cath. Ch. Letter 3 page 37 sq.; see also page 46 sq.). Another, even greater celebrity, the learned Bellarmine, goes so far as to prove from this continuity of the miraculous power in the Church of Rome that the Protestant Church, lacking this, is manifestly not of God. He argues that miracles are necessary to evince any new faith or extraordinary mission; that miracles are efficacious and sufficient. By the former, he then tells us, may be deduced that the Church is not to be found among Protestants; by the latter, that it is most assuredly among Catholics: "Undecima nota est gloria miraculorum; sunt autem duo fundamenta praemittenda. Unum quod miracula sint necessaria ad novam fidem vel extraordinariam missionem persuadendam. Alterum, quod sint efficacia et sufficientia; nam ex priore deducemus non esse apud adversarios veram ecclesiam, ex posteriore deducemus eamr esse apud nos. Quod igitur miracula sint necessaria, probatur primo Scripturae testimonio, Exodus 4 cum Moses mitteretur a Deo ad populum, ac diceret: 'Non credent mihi, neque audient vocem meam.' Non respondet Deus, 'Debent credere, velint nolint,' sed dedit illi potestatem faciendi miracula, et ait: 'Ut credant, quod appartuerit tibi Dominus,' etc. Et in Novo Testamento, Matthew 10. Euntes, praedicate, dicentes: Appropinquovit regnum coelorum; infirmos curate, mortuos suscitate, leprosos mundate, daemones ejicite.' Joan. 15: 'Si opera non fecissem in eis quae nemo alius fecit, peccatum non haberent'' (Opera, volume 2; De Notis Ecclesiae, lib. 4 cap. 14 col. 206 D [Col. 1619]). Even the liberal-minded Dr. Milner, who displayed learning in almost every department of science; who possessed experience, intelligence, and taste; who wrote well and reasoned acutely; teaches, in a letter devoted to the subject of miracles, that "if the Roman Catholic Church were not the only true Church, God would not have given any attestation in its favor... Having demonstrated the distinction," by which he means the exclusive holiness of the Roman Catholic Church, he professes himself "prepared to show that God has borne testimony to that holiness by the many and incontestable (?) miracles he has wrought in her favor, from the age of the apostles down to the present time" (Lett. 26, page 163 sq., et al.).

The reasoning of Dr. Milner brings us to reconsider the statement made in the early part of this article that "no miraculous events mark the history of the Church after the days of the apostles, if we may depend on the authority of the patristic writers." Romanists frequently refer us to what St. Ignatius, who flourished in the 1st century after Christ, relates about the wild beasts which were let loose upon the martyrs being frequently restrained by a divine power from hurting them, and also to the miracle which deterred the apostate Julian (this, however, brings us to the 4th century) from rebuilding the Temple of Jerusalem. As to the first of these miraculous workings, a single observation must suffice. The words of Ignatius are: "Ne sicut in aliis, territae sint et non eos tetigerunt;" implying that the fierce animals did not behave as in ordinary cases, but that, being terrified at the sight of the surrounding spectators, they refused to fight. Ignatius himself considered the occurrence purely accidental and natural; otherwise he would have given the glory to God, and have besought him to repress their fury. As to the second miracle, it must of necessity have occurred, or the prophecy which related to it could not be fulfilled (Da 9:27). Says Elliott: "In its exact completion I perfectly agree with Dr. Milner, and for the very reason assigned by Gibbon himself, that if it were not verified, 'the imperial sophist would have converted the success of his undertaking into a specious' (he should have said solid) 'argument against the faith of prophecy and the truth of revelation' (Decline and Fall, 4:104). But I am not equally disposed to admit that there were other as extraordinary miracles, besides the one mentioned, since the apostolic age; or, if there were, that they were performed for the purpose alleged by him" (Delin. of Romanism, page 527). Dr. Neander, bishop Kaye, Dr. Schaff, and others, hold to the gradual cessation theory. That is to say, they teach that "there is an antecedent probability that the power of working miracles was not suddenly and abruptly, but gradually withdrawn, as the necessity of such outward and extraordinary attestation of the divine origin of Christianity diminished and gave way to the natural operation of truth and moral suasion." They also hold that "it is impossible to fix the precise termination, either at the death of the apostles, or their immediate disciples, or the conversion of the Roman empire, or the extinction of the Arian heresy, or any subsequent era, and to sift carefully in each particular case the truth from legendary fiction." "Most of the statements of the apologists," says Dr. Schaff, "are couched in general terms, and refer to extraordinary cures from demoniacal possession (which probably includes, in the language of that age, cases of madness, deep melancholy, and epilepsy) and other diseases, by the invocation of the name of Jesus. Justin Martyr speaks of such cures as a frequent occurrence in Rome and all over the world, and Origen appeals to his own personal observation, but speaks in another place of the growing scarcity of miracles, so as to suggest the gradual cessation theory. Tertullian attributes many, if not most, of the conversions of his day to supernatural dreams and visions, as does also Origen, although with more caution. But in such psychological phenomena it is exceedingly difficult to draw the line of demarcation between natural and supernatural causes, and between providential interpositions and miracles proper. The strongest passage on this subject is found in Ireneus (Adv. haer. 2:31, § 2, and 2:32, § 4), who, in contending against the heretics, mentions, besides prophecies and miraculous cures of daemoniacs, even the raising of the dead among contemporary events taking place in the Catholic Church; but he specifies no particular case or name; and it should be mentioned also that his youth still bordered almost on the Johannean age" (Ch. History, 1:206, 207). In another place, referring to the testimony of Ambrose and Augustine for belief in a continuation of miracles, Dr. Schaff, while himself advocating the gradual cessation theory, and also the possibility of miraculous power dwelling in the Church of today, teaches, nevertheless, that even the best of patristic testimonies may be impeached if they appear on the witness stand in behalf of miraculous deeds wrought in the Church in post-apostolic days: "We should not be bribed or blinded by the character and authority of such witnesses, since experience sufficiently proves that even the best and most enlightened men cannot wholly divest themselves of superstition and of the prejudices of their age. Recall, e.g., Luther and the apparitions of the devil, the Magnalia of Cotton Mather, the old Puritans and their trials for witchcraft, as well as the modern superstitions of spiritual rappings and table-turnings, by which many eminent and intelligent persons have been carried away" (3:461).

But, differ as we may regarding the cessation or noncessation of miraculous power in the Church of Christ, there is, nevertheless, one point on which Protestants unite in opposing the pretensions of Rome; some betraying an undue dogmatic bias, but all agreeing that it is remarkable that the genuine writings of the ante-Nicene Church are more free from miraculous and superstitious elements than the annals of the Middle Ages, and especially of monasticism. Indeed, it would appear that the Nicene age is the first marked as one of miracles, and that miracles rapidly increased in number from henceforth until they became matters of every-day occurrence. Dr. Isaac Taylor adds: "No such miracles as those of the 4th century were pretended in the preceding sera, when they might seem to be more needed. If, then, these miracles were genuine, they must be regarded as opening a new dispensation" (Anc. Christianity, 2:357). This new dispensation, no doubt, they heralded, for it is manifest that the miracles, of the Nicene age and post-Nicene age "were always intended to propagate the belief of certain rites and doctrines and practices which had crept into the Church; to advance the reputation of some particular chapel or image or religious order, or to countenance opinions, either such as were contested among themselves, or such as the whole Church did not teach" (Bishop Douglas, Criterion, page 40). Says Dr. Taylor: "Whereas the alleged supernatural occurrences related, or appealed to by the earlier Christian writers, are nearly all of an ambiguous kind and such as may, with little difficulty, be understood without either the assumption of miraculous interposition or the imputation of deliberate fraud, it is altogether otherwise with the miracles of the Church of the 4th, 5th, and 6th centuries, From the period of the Nicene Council and onward miracles of the most astounding kind were alleged to be wrought from day to day, and openly, and in all quarters of the Christian world. These wonders were solemnly appealed to and seriously narrated by the leading persons of the Church, Eastern and Western; and in many instances these very persons — the great men now set up in opposition to the leaders of the Reformation — were themselves the wonder-workers, and have themselves transmitted the accounts of them. But then these alleged miracles were, almost in every instance, wrought expressly in support of those very practices and opinions which stand forward as the points of contrast distinguishing Romanism from Protestantism. We refer especially to the ascetic life-the supernatural properties of the eucharistic elements — the invocation of the saints, or direct praying to them, and the efficacy of their relics; and the reverence or worship due to certain visible and palpable religious symbols" (2:235).

Dr. Hodge, commenting upon these Romish miracles, says, "they admit of being classified on different principles. As to their nature, some are grave and important; others are trifling, childish, and even babyish; others are indecorous; and others are irreverent, and even blasphemous... Another principle on which they may be classified is the design for which they were wrought or adduced. Some are brought forth as proofs of the sanctity of particular persons or places or things; some to sustain particular doctrines, such as purgatory, transubstantiation, the worshipping of the saints and of the Virgin Mary, etc., some for the identification of relics. It is no injustice to the authorities of the Church of Rome to say that whatever good ends these miracles may in any case be intended to serve, they have in the aggregate been made subservient to the accumulation of money and to the increase of power...

The truth of Christianity depends on the historical truth of the account of the miracles recorded in the N.T. The truth of Romanism depends on the truth of the miracles to Which it appeals. What would become of Protestantism if it depended on the demonology of Luther, or the witch- stories of our English forefathers?

The Romish Church, in assuming the responsibility for the ecclesiastical miracles, has taken upon itself a burden which would crush the shoulders of Atlas" (3:456; comp. Princet. Rev. April 1856, art. 5, especially page 272). And Dr. Schaff, who, as we have already seen, inclines to the belief that miracles may have been wrought in post-apostolic days, and may continue to be wrought today and hereafter, yet ventures to say that "the following weighty considerations rise against the miracles of the Nicene and post-Nicene age; not warranting, indeed, the rejection of all, yet making us at least very cautious and doubtful of receiving them in particular:

1. These miracles have a much lower moral tone than those of the Bible, while in some cases they far exceed them in outward pomp, and make a stronger appeal to our faculty of belief. Many of the monkish miracles are not so much supernatural and above reason as they are unnatural and against reason, attributing even to wild beasts of the desert, panthers and hyenas, with which the misanthropic hermits lived on confidential terms, moral feelings and states, repentance and conversion, of which no trace appears in the N.T.

2. They serve not to confirm the Christian faith in general, but for the most part to support the ascetic life, the magical virtue of the sacrament, the veneration of saints and relics, and other superstitious practices, which are evidently of later origin, and are more or less offensive to the healthy evangelical mind.

3. The further they are removed from the apostolic age, the more numerous they are, and in the 4th century alone there are more miracles than in all the three preceding centuries together, while the reason for them, as against the power of the heathen world, was less.

4. The Church fathers, with all the worthiness of their character in other respects, confessedly lacked a highly-cultivated sense of truth, and allowed a certain justification of falsehood ad majorem Dei gloriam, or fitaus pia, under the misnomer of policy or accommodation (so especially Jerome, Epist. ad Pammachium); with the single exception of Augustine, who, in advance of his age, rightly condemned falsehood in every form.

5. Several Church fathers, like Augustine, Martin of Tours, and Gregory I, themselves concede that in their time extensive frauds with the relics of saints were already practiced; and this is confirmed by the fact that there were not rarely numerous copies of the same relict, all of which claimed to be genuine.

6. The Nicene miracles met with doubt and contradiction even among contemporaries, and Sulpitius Severus makes the important admission that the miracles of St. Martin were better known and more firmly believed in foreign countries than in his own (Dialog. 1:18).

7. Church fathers, like Chrysostom and Augustine, contradict themselves in a measure in sometimes paying homage to the prevailing faith in miracles, especially in their discourses on the festivals of the martyrs, and in soberer moments, and in the calm exposition of the Scriptures, maintaining that miracles, at least in the Biblical sense, had long since ceased (comp. Robertson, Hist. of the Christian Church to Gregory the Great [Lond. 1854], page 334). We must, moreover, remember that the rejection of the Nicene miracles by no means justifies the inference of intentional deception in every case, nor destroys the claim of the great Church teachers to our respect. On the contrary, between the proper miracle and fraud there lie many intermediate steps of self-deception, clairvoyance, magnetic phenomena and cures, and unusual states of the human soul, which is full of deep mysteries, and stands nearer the invisible spirit-world than the every-day mind of the multitude suspects. Constantine's vision of the cross, for example, may be traced to a prophetic dream; and the frustration of the building of the Jewish Temple under Julian, to a special providence, or a historical judgment of God. The mytho-poetic faculty, too, which freely and unconsciously produces miracles among children, may have been at work among credulous monks in the dreary deserts, and magnified an ordinary event into a miracle. In judging of this obscure portion of the history of the Church we must, in general, guard ourselves as well against shallow naturalism and scepticism as against superstitious mysticism, remembering that

"There are more things in heaven and earth Than are dreamt of in our philosophy" (CI. Hist. 3:463-465).

If we institute a direct and careful comparison between the Biblical and the ecclesiastical miracles, we find, besides matter of fact, as to the certainty of the thing and the reasons of credibility, there is a great difference in the force and efficacy of the former and a confirmation of that for which it is produced, while it is not so in the case of the latter. "Those Biblical miracles," says Butler, "were generally very beneficial to human nature, doing mighty offices of kindness towards those who were the subjects of them, such as healing the sick, raising the dead, restoring the deaf, the lame, and the blind, etc.; all which bore an excellent proportion to the great design of redeeming and saving mankind. And if at any time there were any mixture of severity in the ver act, such as striking some dead by a word spoken, or putting others in the immediate possession of the devil by excommunication; yet was even this done either in kindness to posterity, by fixing, in the first institution of things, one or two standing pillars of salt, that might be for example and admonition to after-ages, against some practices that might otherwise in time destroy Christianity; as, in .the first instance, of Ananias and Sapphira, against the sin of hypocrisy; or else to some good purposes for the persons themselves, as in the last instance of excommunication; so in the case of the incestuous person, it was adjudged by Paul, 'to deliver such a one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus' (1Co 5:5). None of these miracles were such useless, ludicrous actions as the Romish authors have filled their histories with; such as that of St. Berinus, who, 'being under full sail for France, and half his voyage over, finding he had forgot something, walks out upon the sea, and returns back dryshod;' such as St. Mochua, by his prayer and staff hindering the poor lambs from sucking their dams, when they were running towards them with full appetites; such, again, as St. Francis bespeaking the ass in the kind compellation of brother, 'to stand quiet till he had done preaching, and not disturb the solemnity;' and such as St. Fiutanus keeping the calf from the cow, that they should neither of them move towards one another; such, in a word, as St. Frimianus and St. Ruadanus, sporting their miracles with each other, as if they had the power given them for no other end but mere trial of skill, or some pretty diversion of bystanders" (Notes, pages 252-258). The Breviary (q.v.) teems with descriptions of all manner of miraculous manifestations, but we have not room to enumerate others here, and must refer the reader to it and to Elliott (Delineation of Romanisnm, pages 527- 543). On the most important so-called miracles claimed by the Church of Rome in modern days, see the articles SEE ST. FRANCIS; SEE HOLY COAT OF TREVES; SEE ST. JANUARIUS; SEE LOURDES; SEE XAVIER, etc. SEE SUPERSTITION; SEE VISIONS.

It appears, moreover, from the writings of many distinguished Roman Catholic authors that the post-Nicene miracles are not generally accepted. Thus Peter, abbot of Cluny, as far back as the 13th century, says: "You know how much. those Church sonnets grieve me" (lib. 5, Epist. 29). He mentions one of Benedict which he declares contained no less than twenty- four lies. Ludovicus Vives, speaking of the Legenda Aurea, observes: "How unworthy both of God and man is the story of their saints, which, I do not know why, was called the Golden Legend, it having been written by one who had an iron mouth and a leaden heart" (lib. 2 De Currupt. Artib., in fine). And Espencius declares: "No stable is fuller of dung than their legends are of fables" (in 2 Timothy 4 Digress. 21). These authorities might be multiplied to a great extent. We must content ourselves with a few of the leading minds since the reformatory ideas took root in the Church of Rome. First among these we must place the learned French chancellor Gerson, of Paris University, who, when, in the Council of Constance, the canonization of St. Bridget (q.v.) was proposed, thus spoke out: "It cannot be said how much this curiosity for knowing future and hidden things, and for seeing miracles and performing them, hath deluded most persons, and constantly turned them away from true religion. Hence all those superstitions among the people which destroy the Christian religion, while, like the Jews, they only seek a sign, exhibiting to images the worship due to God, and attaching their faith to men yet uncanonized, and to apocryphal writings, more than to the Scriptures themselves." In the 15th century the appearance of a rival to the Franciscan visionary in the person of St. Catharine of Sienna as the champion of the more powerful Dominicans, provoked the following utterance from cardinal Cajetan, utterly nullifying the former declarations of the Church in her favor: "It is alleged," he writes, that St. Bridget had a revelation that the Blessed Virgin was preserved from original sin. But the probability of this opinion is very slender, for it is opposed to very many saints, and none of those alleged were themselves canonized. To St. Bridget, moreover, we may oppose St. Catharine of Sienna, who said that the contrary doctrine had been revealed to her, as the archbishop of Florence relates in the first part of his Summa. And St. Catharine would seem to deserve greater credit, because she was canonized like the other saints, while St. Bridget was canonized in the period of the schism, during the obedience of Boniface IX, in which there was no certain and undoubted pope." Further on he adds the fatal words: "New revelations against so many saints and ancient doctors must seem to the wise to bring in an angel of Satan transformed into an angel of light, to bring in fancies, and even figments. These, truly, with the so-called miracles which are cited in this cause, are rather for old women than for the holy synod, whence I do not deem them worthy of mention." "There is need of great caution," writes this great divine, "first on account of the miracle itself, inasmuch as Satan transforms himself into an angel of light, and can work many signs and wonders, such as we might deem that none but God could work — as works of healing, power over the elements, and the like. Hence it is said that Antichrist will perform so many miracles in the sight of men that, if it were possible, he would deceive the very elect themselves. Secondly, there is need of caution on the ground of illusions, as happens in the case of prophesyings. Thirdly, it may be urged that signs (according to 1 Corinthians 14 and St. Gregory, Hom. x) are given to the unbelieving, and not to believers; while to the Church as faithful, and not unfaithful, are given the prophetical and apostolical revelations. Hence the way of signs unless not merely a wonder, but a true and indisputable miracle, is wrought before the Roman Church in the most evident manner, ought not to determine any doubtful doctrine; and the reason is, because we have from God an ordinary way for the determination of matters of faith; insomuch that if an angel from heaven were to say anything contrary to this ordinary 'way he ought not to be believed (Ga 1:8). Add to this that the miracles received by the Church in the canonization of saints, which are most authentic of all, are not, inasmuch as they rest on human testimony, absolutely certain (for it is written, 'Every man is a liar'); although they may be certain after a human manner. But the certainty of the Christian faith ought not to be certain after a human manner, but ought to have altogether an infallible evidence such as no human being, but only God, can produce. :Hence the apostle Peter, after giving his own testimony to the heavenly voice heard by him in the transfiguration of our Lord, as a human evidence, subjoins: 'And we have a more sure word of prophecy,' adding that 'Prophecy came not by the will of man.' Wherefore certainty in the judicial determination of the things of faith must be obtained by divine and not by human testimony" (De Conceptione B.V.f. cap. 1).

We can even go to the chair of St. Peter and learn from some of its incumbents a like disposition to ignore, or even to reject the miraculous manifestations in the Church. Thus pope Gregory XI, having been persuaded by the prophecies of St. Catharine of Sienna to return to Rome from Avignon, "when on his death-bed, and having in his hands the sacred body of Christ, protested before all that they ought to beware of human beings, whether male or female, speaking under pretence of religion the visions of their own brain. For by these (he said) he was led away; and, setting aside the reasonable advice of his own people, had drawn himself and the Church to the verge of an imminent schism, .unless her merciful Spouse, Jesus, should save her," which the dreadful result too clearly proved (Gerson. De Exam. Doctrinarum, part 2 consid. 3). Nor need pope Benedict XIV be forgotten. His utterances are clearly laid down in his great work on the Canonization of the Saints (lib. 4 chapter 31, § 21-25).

If from these celebrated Romish authorities we come down to our own day, we find bishop Milner, who is himself an advocate of the doctrine, yet admitting "that a vast number of incredible and false miracles, as well as other fables, have been forged by some and believed by other Catholics in every age of the Church, including that of the apostles. I agree... in rejecting the Legenda Aurea of Jacobus de Voragine, the Speculaim of Vincentius, Belluacensis, the Saints' Lives of the patrician Metaphrastes, and scores of similar legends, stuffed as they are with relations of miracles of every description" (End of Controversy, Lett. 27, pages 175, 176).

It is, however, by no means to be inferred from what we have said that these miraculous exhibitions are confined to the Church of Rome. The Protestants have now and then prophets and visionaries who claim supernatural power. But while the Protestant Church has always discarded the authors, or at least, under the most favorable circumstances, has refused to accord to such exhibitions any divine origin, the Church of Rome clearly teaches that these things are so to be. Hence, occasionally, sects departing from the Church of Rome have tried to establish their authority by miraculous signs and works. Thus some of the persecuted Jansenists availed themselves of the utility of modern miracles for the purpose of propagating a new doctrine or deciding a controverted one, and had recourse to the same weapons of defence against their implacable adversaries. Franlois de Paris, the son of an advocate of the Parliament of Paris, became in this sense the apostle of the Jansenist doctrine, and the prophet against the famous bull Unigenitus. His holiness and mortification of life, and the reaction of public opinion after the cruel persecutions of the Jesuits, greatly favored the success of his claim to work miracles, which, according to his biographers, was proved both in his life and at his tomb after death, in a degree that few canonized saints have attained to. The learned reviewer of his life, in the Acta Eruditorum of Leipsic, merely concludes from his history that the city of Paris was filled at the time with the followers of Jansenius, and that they were comnpelled to appeal thus to the popular superstition in order to lessen the persecutions of the Jesuits, and in a manner to attack them with their own weapons. These miracles chiefly involved powers of healing and restoration of outward faculties, and bore (if true) a much closer resemblance to the healing gifts which inaugurated Christianity than to the senseless and aimless wonders of mediaeval miracle-working. But the contagion which was thus spread over the Church, and throughout almost every age, was by no means confined to the Roman Church, its orders or disorders.

Though the churches of the Reformation, in their bold appeal "to the law and to the testimony," had treated the visions and miracles upon which the inner power of Rome had been built with as little ceremony as they treated the forged decretals on which her external power had been carried up in the darkness of the Middle Ages, it was not long before the old love of the marvellous, and the inextinguishable longing after the forbidden fruit of visions and revelations which had been so abundantly enjoyed but a little before, extended into the churches of the Reformation., But the occasion of their. appearance was different altogether from that which had evoked it in the Roman Church, though by a singular coincidence the scene of the Protestant and of the Romish revelations was the same. The province of Dauphiny, which gave a birthplace to the peasant visionaries of La Salette, was also, in an earlier day, the native country of Isabel Vincent, whose miraculous preachings in her sleep and ecstatic visions enlisted the faith of the good and learned M. Jurieu, and produced from him an energetic and not ineloquent appeal in behalf of modern miracles. The very title of his treatise in its English dress is almost as sensational as a novel of Miss Braddon: The Reflections of the reverend and learned M. Jurieu upon the strange and miraculous Ecstasies of Isabel Vincent, the Shepherdess, of Saon, in Dauphines, who ever since February last hath sung Psalms, prayed, preached, and prophesied about the present. Times in her Trances; as also upon the wonderful and portentous Trumpetings and singing of Psalms that were heard by thousands in the air in many Parts of France in the Year 1686. Not nursed into life in the bosom of Rome, and nourished as the visions of Lourdes and La Salette by a priesthood too deeply interested in the success of the imposition, the Protestant wonders sprang into a vigorous and sturdy existence out of the terrible hot-bed of cruelty and persecution which the revocation of the Edict of Nantes had produced in every province of France, and which, in the more imaginative region of the south, bore strange and exotic fruits. The visions of the poor shepherdess and 'her preachings were little more,' in fact, than the broken and wild recollections of the Protestant services thereso cruelly prohibited — prophecies of future trials or deliverances being intermingled with her sermons in the same manner as they had doubtless been by the exiled and often martyred pastors of that period of bitter persecution, whose judgment, "though of a long time," was read in the dreadful anarchy of the first Revolution, and seems hardly fully ended in our own day.

The crushing out of a rational faith was followed by the rise of the school of Voltaire and Diderot, and it well might shame the advocates of the Church of Rome in every age to find that the proscribed infidel was the first to bring to justice, or, rather, to public reprobation, the judges who, at the instigation of the Jesuits, so horribly tortured and murdered the poor silk-mercer of Toulouse, Calas, whose only crime, like that of the victims of Thorn in a somewhat earlier day, was his firm and consistent Protestantism. The wonderful sounds in the air — which were testified by so many thousands, and described in a public letter by M. de Besse, a pastor who had contrived to escape from his prison to Lausanne — might perhaps be referred, without charge of scepticism, to the effects of this dreadful persecution upon the minds and the nerves of its wretched and homeless victims, of whom it might well be said, in the words of Paul, "They were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheep-skins and goat-skins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented, they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens, and in caves of the earth." Indeed, some even imagined, as M. de Besse tells us, that the wonderful sounds which were heard by so many were but the singing of the poor exiles met together in woods or in caves; but the variety of places in which he himself heard these mysterious harmonies soon convinced him that so simple a solution of them was erroneous. In vain the ear-witnesses of these phenomena were taken to prison for declaring them, and forbidden to say anything about them again. The witnesses multiplied more and more. Sometimes the sounds were like those of a trumpet, and had a warlike character; at other times they are described as combining the most ravishing strains of harmony; sometimes they were heard by day, sometimes, again, at night, "but in the night in a more clear and distinct manner than in the day" (Jurieu, Reflections, page 36). "The trumpet always sounds as if an army were going to charge, and the harmony is like the composition of many voices, and of an infinite number of musical instruments." "I do believe," adds the good pastor, who found it more easy to interpret the sign than to account for it, "that the trumpet is a sign of a cruel war that will be made in a little time, and that the harmony comes from the mouth of angels, who, to put our enemies to the last confusion, thunder out the praises of God at a time when these wretched men forbid it to reformed Christians." The outbreak of the French Revolution, and the overthrow of the Church just a century after, would seem to verify, though at a later date, the interpretation of the poor exile, whose fellow-witness was a "Sieur Calas," probably one of the family of the martyr of a later day; while the testimony to the authenticity of his letter is given by an exiled minister, bearing the equally suggestive name of Murat.

Passing over to Germany, we find that the contagion of new revelations and prophecies had spread itself in the eastern part of the empire at an earlier period in the 17th century. Temporarily with the mystical and hieroglyphical system of Jacob Bohme, there sprang up in Silesia and Saxony the cognate revelations of Kotter, Drabitz, and Christina Poniatovia, all having a political rather than strictly religious character, and foretelling the final triumph of Protestantism in the empire, and the regeneration of Christianity, by the overthrow of the Roman power. Kotter, fortunately for his head, escaped into Lusatia, where some noblemen of influence became his adherents. Drabitz, not so fortunate, lost his head at Presburg, by order of the emperor, to whom his visions had a somewhat treasonable aspect; while Poniatovia, more fortunate than either, closed her revelations by marrying the tutor of the son of the king of Bohemia, and the threefold revelations, though introduced with much pomp and circumstance, and with a vast number of curious illustrations of the dreams and visions in which they were disclosed, by the famous Amos Comenius, fell still-born on the world, and have now a place on the shelves of the curious, on the ground of their rarity and of the grotesque ingenuity of their pictorial representations. (Two editions of these revelations, both in 4to, appeared under the editorship of Comenius. The former is called Lux in Tenebris, the latter Lux e Tenebris. A copy of one of these was burned with Drabitz after he was beheaded at Presburg. Both editions are very rare.) In Western Germany they were almost unknown, and it is memorable that almost all the prophets and mystics of Central Europe belonged to that mixed Teutonic and Sclavonic race which peoples the eastern frontier lands of the empire. But, though Germany contributed so little to the visionary lore of Europe at this period in a direct manner, it had produced a system of mystical divinity which laid the foundations of many future visions and ecstasies. The wild theology or theosophy, or whatever else it might be called, of Jacob Bohme, was a fruitful soil for the growth of new revelations and prophecies, and might well prepare the mind it obscured for the most startling apparitions of the beings of another world. The writings of this celebrated enthusiast, forbidden and suppressed in his own country, found vent in Holland and England. The mysticism of Jane Leade (q.v.) and her followers, the Philadelphians (q.v), the Quietism of Molina (q.v.), are subjects tor consideration in the article MYSTICISM SEE MYSTICISM . But it may not be amiss, in this place, to call attention to the singular contrast between the Roman Catholic miracles, visions, and revelations, and those of the Protestant world. While the former are always invoked in order to found some new and undiscovered system of worship or object of superstition, the latter have a very practical end, and stand in close connection with holiness of life, which modern Roman revelations tend so little to promote. Even Jane Leade's revelations had a really Christian moral, which cannot in any sense be affirmed of the wonders of Lourdes or La Salette, and of the miracles with which, as Dr. Newman affirmed, the Roman Church is hung about on every side. "The Anglo Saxon nature," says a writer in the British Quarterly Review (July 1873, page 97), "does not often indulge in visions, but when it does they seem to partake of that practical character which belongs to the race. No doubt some good may have arisen even from Mrs. Leade and her Philadelphian Society in its various branches in that age of spiritual deadness in which her lot was cast. Possibly even now we may be deriving some advantage from the example and the labors of this aged enthusiast, even as the decayed vegetation of an earlier year may have contributed to the fruitfulness of our own. The Philadelphian Society seems but a short time to have survived its foundress, though the ramifications of it were so extended, and its temporary success so remarkable. But notwithstanding the success of visionaries and pretenders to miraculous powers, both in medieval and modern times, it cannot be denied that the current of feeling in the general body of the Church has run strongly and steadily against their pretensions, and that even those which had been attributed to a divine influence in the beginning, have often been referred to a diabolical inspiration in the end. Nor was this the only peril to which miracle-mongers and visionaries were exposed. So long as they fell in with the ruling power, and flattered the prejudices or the tastes of the day, all was well with them. St. Bridget, whose bitter denunciations against the crimes of the court of Rome made her the popular saint of those who looked for their reformation during the great schism, or who began that difficult work at Constance, would have been handed over to Satan in the day when the 'Curia' was again restored in all its old deformity, and only pledged to a reform which it never attempted to carry out. Nicholas Bulwersdorf, whose revelations against Rome were uttered, unhappily for himself, in the Council of Basle, and were mixed up with the old heresy of the Millenarians, expiated for them at the stake; while the poor monk whose revelations and prophecies are mentioned by the Dominican, Nyder, was found to have derived his inspiration, or, rather, his diabolic possession, from having swallowed the devil through greedily devouring a most tempting cauliflower in the garden of the monastery without saying grace — avide comedit, ac daemonem ignoranter deglutivit. Another monk, who had a revelation which led him to found a new order, of which he assumed the government, incurred bodily as well as spiritual destruction — 'incineratus est rector cum regula.' The presumption of diabolic influence was, however, not less decisive in Protestant England than in Rome itself, and the grotesque history of the Surey Demoniack, or Satan's strange and dreadful Actions in and about the Person of Richard Dugdale, in 1697, exhibits the popular superstition in the fullest degree. This poor creature, who seems to have been an epileptic patients fortunately escaped the Roman ordeal, for we read that he was 'dispossessed by God's blessing on the fastings and prayers of divers ministers and people.' It had been well if the spiritual authorities of Lourdes and La Salette, instead of 'believing every spirit,' had 'dispossessed' the poor visionary peasants of their fond conceit, instead of instituting pilgrimages for the canonization of so foolish a story." Well might they have fallen back from the visions and miracles of a darker age upon that great and last revelation of God to man, those Scriptures of eternal truth, that "pure and living precept of God's Word, which, without more additions, nay, with the forbidding of them, hath within itself the promise of eternal life, the end of all our wearisome labors and all our sustaining hopes" (Milton, On Prelatical Episcopacy). The question of ecclesiastical miracles was slightly touched by Spencer in his notes on Origen against Celsus, and more fully by Le Moine; but did not attract general attention till Middleton published his famous Free Inquiry (1748). Several replies were written by Dodwell (junior), Chapman, Church, etc., which do not seem to have attracted much permanent attention. Some good remarks on the general subject occur in Jortin's Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, and in Warburton's Julian. This controversy has also of late years been reopened by Dr. Newman, in an essay on miracles, originally prefixed to a translation of Fleury's Ecclesiastical History, and since republished in a separate form.

See, besides, Elliott; Cramp, Text-book of Popery; Hodge, Divinity; Forsyth, Italy, 2:154 sq.; Rome in the 19th Century, 1:40, 86; 2:356; 3:193 sq.; Lady Morgan, Italy, 2:306; 3:189; Graham, Three, Months' Residence, etc., page 241; Middleton, Letter from Rome; Southey, Vindicice Ecclesice Auylicaute, 1:125 sq.; Blanco White, Poor's Man's Preservation against Popery, page 90; Brownlee, Letters in the Roman Catholic Controversy; Brand, Popul. Antig.; Hone, Anc. Mysteries.

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