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were not formally wrought as preliminaries to a discourse, but spontaneously issued from the quietude of pity: they were not syllogisms, but mercies. Nay, where conviction was most needed, what is said of him? "" He did not many mighty works there, because of their unbelief ;'* unless he wished them to continue in unbelief, he must have regarded miracles as an improper instrument of overcoming it. And can we forget his language of rebuke, “ except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.”+ When he appeals to his “ works," it is to his “many good works;"I to the benevolence of his acts, not their marvellousness chiefly, to their being “the works of his Father,"$ conceived in the spirit of God, and bearing the impress of his character.
The estimate of the logical force of miracles (the moral power of those which belong to Christianity is incalculable) appears to be consonant with experience. I conceive that, in fact, unbelievers are very seldom convinced by the appeal to the supernatural; that the avenues of admission to Christianity lie usually in quite a different direction; and that the reason and affections surrender to Christ's spirit, and thus comprehend the thing signified, before they can receive and interpret“the sign.” Nay, let me put the case home to your own experience. Would you, by this instrumentality, become convinced of that which you before held false? If, before your eyes, a person were to multiply five loaves into five hundred, and then say, “this is to prove the doctrines which I teach, that God is malignant, and that there is no heaven after death," -should you be converted, and follow him as his disciple? Certainly not; the statement being incredible, the miracle would be powerless. And the inference I would draw is this: that the primitive force of persuasion lies in the moral doctrine as estimated by our reason and conscience, not in the preternatural act displayed before our senses; for, the moment you test their forces, by bringing them into collision, the original convictions of the reason obtain the mastery. It is no answer to say, that such a case is of impossible occurrence. For the purpose to which I apply it, viz., to try an experiment with our own minds, respecting the real argumentative capabilities of miracles, an imaginary case is not only as good as an actual one, but a great deal better: for so long as a good truth and a good miracle are linked together, and move in the same direction, we rest confusedly on the joint support of physical and moral evidence, and are unable to determine which is the ascendant power.
John x. 32. SJohn a. 37.
*Matt. xiii. 58.
John iv. 48
The statements and examples of scripture tend to the same conclusion. The personal disciples of our Lord returned
from a mission on which he had sent them; exclaiming, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name." Yet, though they were possessed of these miraculous powers, their views of the very kingdom which they had gone forth to preach were at this time exceedingly narrow and erroneous,-leading them into acts and desires ambitious, passionate, and false.
Miracles, then, are simply awakening facts: demanding and securing reverential and watchful regard to something, or to every thing, in the parties performing them; but not specifically singling out any portion of their doctrinal ideas, and affording them infallible proof. Is it not competent to God thus to draw human attention to a person, as well as a truth; -to a character, as well as a doctrine? At all events, it is an unwarrantable presumption in us to select for the Allwise the particular motive with which exclusively he ought to create a miracle; instead of humbly noting the actual results, and judging thence of his divine purposes.
(TO BE CONTINUED.)
THE SWAN. PFEFFEL.
The kingly swan sails by!
Of spotless purity.
In vain they roar and rave;
E'en on the yawning grave.
While glides life's day along,
Is a triumphant song.
Let him my image be;
In snow-white purity!
These few and fleeting days,
Luke x. 17.
EELLS' ORATION. THE LAW AND MEANS OF SOCIAL ADVANCEMENT: an Oration,
delivered before the Alpha Delta Phi Society, at New-Haven, by SAMUEL EELLS. 1839.
The author of the paper on “ Western Literature,” in the October Number of the New-York Quarterly, speaking of the one hundred and sixty millions, whom he computes as the future inhabitants of the Valley, asks, with emphasis: “Do we realize that we of this day, are doing, or can do, any thing to affect the fortunes and character of such an immense mass as this? And yet, realize it or not, we are doing a vast deal, by our literary, religious, political and social influences, to benefit or injure those many millions.”
We are willing to make this sentiment the text or motto to our opinion of the essay, whose title forms our caption; having first affixed a kindred passage from its own pages. What is said here of the arts, applies especially to literature. It is valuable, as means to an end, and that end is a moral end; —the development of man's spiritual nature; the highest well-being of the human race. The splendid civilization of the present age, with all its wonderful improvements,-its triumphs of art, genius, invention and discovery, must be tried by this test; and if, when weighed in these balances, it be found wanting, it has failed of its end: it is spurious and must pass away.". In this day and region, we hold utility to be the grond touchsione of all literature: by this stern criterion, an uncompromising cui bono, we are inclined to try all the issues of the modern press. Our times are iron; our institutions are matter of fact; Common Sense is captain, now, and people seem to have done dreaming and taken to thinking. Let him that stands upon the watch-tower of letters, remember that he guards the spiritual interests of " millions yet to be," and admit no insidious foes within the walls. Poetry and polite letters are not, by this test, excluded, nor aught that tends to elevate and refine the mind: but mountains of popular book-work will be found to crumble in the trial, and many a glittering literary bubble to return to its native elements—froth and air. But we are thankful to chance upon an occasional production that will bear the question; and, among the few, this little pamphlet does, and nobly. Let American youth read and write after the fashion of this, and our social circle will begin to be stocked with men, not monkeys; our capitols with statesmen, not laughing-stocks and bullies--while Bowie-knives, les moustaches and Macassar oil must be at a melancholy discount.
The first impression from this address is, that the writer knows (that hard and rarely matured art) how to think. Individuals make books and speeches every day, indicative of intense conjecture on the part of the authors; that they are profoundly reflecting. You may see their gorgeously dreamy effect upon the reader or hearer, enshrouding him in the same fond delusion—that pons asinorum of young science, to wit: one certainly has an idea if one could but express it. But Mr. Eells not only knows he thinks, but he makes you think too.
He has chosen his magnificent subject with a master's eye; and, standing on an intellectual summit, he has surveyed the whole mighty field of the past and explored the future, with prophetic ken, for argument and illustration to his purpose. All space and all time the worlds of mind and matter the facts of history and the abstractions of philosophy—he has taken in the same great grasp of generalization, and moulded of his vast material a doctrine of social progress—its law and means--at once sound in philosophy, exhilerating to contemplate, and pure in its moral tendency.
The first department of the essay consists of an argument drawn from the natural sentiment of the human heart,—the experience of history, the moral government of Providence, and the Scriptures of Truth, going to establish the heartcheering theory of a progressive law in society-a meliorating series in the moral conditions of humanity. Of these, the author proves the first to have been universal and concurrent in all ages in its witness to the doctrine of an ascending scale in the prospects of the world. He lays open the classic page to show that the very poet or philosopher, who has advocated the dreary idea of a declension of society, becomes a swift witness against himself in the very longing after immortality, and the readiness with which he commits his works to posterity, which betray his hope of a higher and better order of things in the future. From the second, taking a comprehensive view of the wars and revolutions of mankind, he deduces that, from each convulsion of society, whether in its results ostensibly favorable to the cause of Truth and Freedom or not, humanity has gained some point, in the light of experiment, that has been thrown upon their glorious principles. He claims the existence of a good germ—a something to build upon, in the midst of man's depravity ;-a pledge of the world's regeneration. To give the idea its own fine clothing, “ there is not a chapter of history so foul with guilt that it does not exhibit some honorable testimony to human virtue; --some bright spot, that looks out from the gloomy and de
formed page, as a star, through the raging tempest of midnight from the depths of its blue and beautiful home.”
Here we must pause a moment, to notice a fear that we know to have been entertained by some, that this portion of Mr. Eells' address, as rather dissonant with the doctrine of man's native depravity, might savour somewhat of theological obliquity. Now, for various reasons, these pages are not the appropriate vehicles for the expression of the views, upon such points, of the writer of this article; and therefore we shall not at present attempt a discussion of the question here involved. But we may venture to assert that our author's position, as used in his argument, will not be found to conflict with any sectarian dogmas, however various they may be. The fact stated, who can deny? That strange relics of man's pristine innocence and grandeur are yet extant in his nature -like some unmarred and stately columns, rising in contrast from moonlight ruins-beautiful in desolation. Say then, that on this basis, the Holy Ghost will build his perfect man of God," after the purpose of the soul hath been turned from its selfishness, to glorify its Maker—and how do we dishonor the blessed creed of God's unpurchased grace? And where's the heresy?
Under the third head, follow some references to the Provi. dential dealings with the nations and the glowing beauties of the Millennial promise, so grandly and delightfully portrayed, that we are admonished to hasten by and avoid the temptation of transferring passages entirely disproportioned to our limits.
The second division inquires the means by which society is to advance to the perfect era. The grand postulate here laid down, is, that the fountain of social improvement lies within; the great instrument, moral influence, acting on the spiritual nature of man.. This runs not with the stream of every-day preaching,—nor practice. Philosophers have been always telling us of the cultivation of the arts, of literature, and the perfection of systems of government. They revel in glowing pictures of external applications, while they neglect the heart of man, which is the heart of the whole matter. Even Education, the happy hobby of our day and country, of itself can never do the work. It must be blended with Religion,—we fearlessly assert, in opposition to the popular sentiment, which, in its eagerness to separate the spiritual from the secular, seems likely to exclude it, even from its own proper sphere. Upon this part of the subject this oration is truly powerful, and the whole train of ordinary fallacies flit like shadows from before its lucid logic. It clearly traces the ruin