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WHEN a teacher and preacher of the Christian religion moves from the circumference toward the heart of faith, miracles fall out of the sphere of his vision. He may not deny the reality of miracles, but more and more miracles cease to be significant for him. He is dealing with the Eternal as it shines by its own light, and in that case outward witness of
any kind for the things of the soul becomes superfluous. For many years I have lived in this mood. Slowly miracles have ceased to serve me in the evolution of my belief, in the moral campaign of my spirit. For me the heart of the universe is God, the Eternal Spirit; the permanent force in man is the soul that answers to the Infinite soul; the incomparable genius of Christianity is in the way in which it enables human beings to live in the consciousness of our Father in Heaven. Christianity is, in my judgment, incomparable as the
religion of revelation and reconciliation; it brings spirit to light, the Divine and the human; it brings peace. The words of the great prophet of the exile describe with rare felicity the privilege of the Christian preacher: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace, that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”1 It is said of Christ:“He came and preached peace to you that were far off, and peace to them that were nigh: for through him we both have our access in one Spirit unto the Father.”? For the great apostle to the nations the gospel became essentially one thing, the gospel of reconciliation. Into these divine depths in Christianity, the supreme religion of the spirit, all devout and happy disciples of the Master and preachers of his message at length come.
Sharing in this universal discipline of honest and advancing souls, it never occurred to me to write anything upon the subject of re1 Isaiah lii, 7.
2 Ephesians ii, 17-18.
ligion and miracle. I had for many years dwelt in a sphere far removed from outward signs and wonders; I had, therefore, quietly ceased to regard the tradition of signs and wonders that accompanied the Lord. One day, however, I fell into conversation with a com
young ministers; I found them greatly troubled. They felt that as honest men they could not say that they believed in miracles ; and that incapacity created suspicion as to how much of the gospel remains when the miracles are set aside.
This question I was invited to discuss at our Boston Ministers' Meeting two or three years ago, and the response which I then received, alike from men of conservative opinions and from men of radical views, led me to reconsider the whole subject. At the same time there came the invitation to lecture on the Nathaniel W. Taylor Foundation in Yale University. In this way the little volume now published came into existence. I am unwilling that any one who may
look into this volume should fail to grasp my pur
pose in writing it. I have no interest in the destruction of the belief in miracle. I am concerned to show that where miracle has ceased to be regarded as true, Christianity remains in its essence entire; that the fortune of religion is not to be identified with the fortune of miracle; that the message of Jesus Christ to the world is independent of miracle, lives by its own reality and worth, self-evidencing and self-attesting. If it shall be allowed by fair minded men that I have made even a slight contribution toward the final emancipation of the fundamental beliefs of Christian men from the cycle of signs and wonders, and from the fate that with the advance of science seems to threaten the entire tradition of miracle, I shall be satisfied. I conceive myself to be a genuine conservative; I am conscious that I work for the preservation of essential historic Christianity; I consider myself to be, to the extent of my power, a defender of the eternal gospel. I regard the vision of God and of human existence, embodied in the message and person of Jesus Christ, as the most precious posses