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the spiritual unless we know the literal ? The correspondence of the spiritual sense is with the sense of the letter; and he who best understands that sense, as those understood it to whom it was addressed, are best prepared to understand the spiritual sense, and best qualified to teach it. The spiritual sense no doubt sheds light on the sense of the letter, and clears up many points, which the mere literalist leaves hopelessly obscure. Yet, notwithstanding the vantage ground on which the spiritualist (we use the word in its true sense) stands, he owes his standing in a great measure to the literalist; comparatively, as the second Christian church owes its existence to the first, not indeed as the producing cause but as the preparatory means. We owe a debt of gratitude therefore to those who labour to bring out the natural meaning of the Divine word, and to those who, besides, apply its plain truths to the uses of the religious life. The work of Archbishop Trench is rather indeed expository than critical, yet so far critical as he deems necessary to the ascertainment of the true and exact literal meaning; and both in his criticisms and expositions he brings his great learning and extensive reading to bear upon the sacred text. And although he is himself essentially a literalist, he is not exclusively so; and even in cases where he takes a purely literal view himself, he often gives the result of what he would call the spiritualizing tendencies of the fathers and earlier commentators.
To his expository notes he prefixes a preliminary essay on “The names of the miracles, the miracles and nature, the authority of miracles, the evangelical compared with other cycles of miracles, the assaults on the miracles, and the apologetic worth of the miracles." This dissertation contains much that is excellent, in the author's endeavour to assign to the miracles of the Lord their true value, both as works of benevolence, as evidences, and as means of instruction. From this essay we quote a part of his remarks on “The Miracles and Nature.”
“While the miracle is not nature, so neither is it against nature. Beyond nature, beyond and above the nature which we know, they are, but not contrary to it. The miracle is not thus unnatural ; nor could it be such ; since the unnatural, the contrary to order, is of itself the ungodly, and can in no way therefore be affirmed of a divine work, such as that with which we have to do. The very idea of the world, as more than one name which it bears testifies, is that of an order ; that, therefore, which comes in to enable it to realize this idea which it has lost, will scarcely itself be a disorder. So far from this, the true miracle is a higher and purer nature, coming down out of the world of untroubled harmonies into this world of ours, which so many discords have jarred and disturbed, and bringing this back again, though it be but for one mysterious prophetic moment,
into harmony with that higher. The healing of the sick can in no way be termed against nature, seeing that the sickness which was healed was against the true nature of man, that it is sickness which is abnormal, and not health. The healing is the restoration of the primitive order. , . The miracles, then, not being against nature, however they may be inside and beyond it, are, in no respect, slights cast upon its ordinary and every-day workings ; but rather, when contemplated aright, are an honouring of these, in the witness which they render the Source whence these also originally proceed. For Christ, healing a sick man with His word, is in fact claiming in this to be Lord and Author of all the healing powers which have ever exerted their beneficent influence on the bodies of man. So again when He multiplies the bread, when He changes the water into wine, what does He but say, 'It is I and no other who, by the sunshine and the shower, by the seedtime and the harvest, give food for the use of man; and you shall know this, which you are evermore unthankfully forgetting, by witnessing for once or for twice, or, if not actually witnessing, yet hearing it rehearsed in your ears for ever, how the essence of things are mine, how the bread grows in my hands, how the water, not drawn up into the vine, nor slowly transmuted into the juices of the grape, nor from thence expressed in the vat, but simply at My bidding, changes into wine. And we can quite perceive how all this should have been necessary. For if in one sense the orderly workings of nature reveal the glory of God (Ps. xix. 1-6), in another they may hide that glory from our eyes ; if they ought to make us continually to remember Him, yet there is danger that they may lead us to forget Him, until this world around us shall prove—not a translucent medium, through which we behold Him, but a thick inpenetrable curtain, concealing Him wholly from our sight.”
In speaking of the apologetic worth of the miracles, the author condemns “the undue, because the exclusive, pre-eminence which has been given to them in later times, especially during the last two centuries. By these later apologists the miracles were read away from the truths for which they witnessed, and which witnessed for them. They were the apology for Christianity, the reason men should give for the faith that was in them. In place of an appeal to these mighty influences which Christ's words and doctrine exercise on every heart that receives them, in their transforming, transfiguring powers, to the miracles of grace which are the heritage of every one who has believed to salvation, instead of urging on the gainsayers in the very language of the Lord, “ If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine whether it be of God,” this all vague and mystical (instead of being seen to be, as it truly was, the most sure and certain of all) was thrown into the background. Men were afraid to trust themselves and their cause to evidences like these, and would know of no other statement than this barren and hungry one-- -Christianity is a Divine revelation, and this the miracles which accompanied its promulgation prove."
“A miracle (he says again) does not prove the truth of a doctrine, or the divine mission of him that brings it to pass. That which alone it claims for him at the
first is a right to be listened to. The doctrine must first commend itself to the conscience as being good, and only then can the miracle seal it as divine. But the first appeal is from the doctrine to the conscience, to the moral nature in man. For all revelation presupposes in man a power of recognising the truth when it is shown him,—that it will find an answer in him,-that he will trace in it the lineaments of a friend, though of a friend from whom he has been long estranged, and whom he has well-nigh forgotten.”
We now turn to the work itself. And here it is pleasing to have the hand of a master in the treatment of those works, as beneficent as wonderful, which our Lord performed on the diseased and even on the lifeless bodies of men, bestowing in His restorations of these to health and life, the greatest good which human minds were then, generally, capable of recognising. But how much more wonderful, and how much more instructive, do these works become, when they are seen to be symbols of those restorations of the souls of believers to spiritual life and health ? One cannot but regret that a pious and gifted mind should be satisfied without, and almost ignore the existence of, such a symbolism in the miracles of our Lord, except when, as in the case of the barren fig tree, and of a few other miracles, another besides the historical sense almost forces itself upon the understanding and the heart. But although the archbishop does not offer much in the name of a spiritual sense himself, he frequently informs his readers of the spiritual sense, or rather senses, which the fathers almost universally connected with the miracles, and which indeed do not always commend themselves to the acceptance of soberminded persons. Their explanations, while they give testimony to current belief in the existence ofa spiritualsense, shows the wantofthat law of spiritual interpretation which has been supplied for the Church of the Lord's second advent; the application of which in the miracles of our Lord bring out such splendid results. While commending the book before us to the perusal of our readers, we will content ourselves with giving a few of those instances in which it rises a little higher than the natural sense, and the religious deductions from it. The turning of water into wine (John ü. 1-11), is one of the miracles on which the author gives some views of his own on an inner sense.
" The first miracle of the New Covenant has its inner mystical meaning. He who turned now the water into wine, should turn in like manner the poorer dispensation, the thin and watery elements of the Jewish religion (Heb. vii. 18), into the richer and nobler, into the gladdening wine of a higher faith. The whole Jewish dispensation in its comparative weakness and poverty was aptly symbolized by the water; and only in type and prophecy could it point to Him who should come 'binding his foal unto the wine, and his ass's colt unto the choice wine ;' who 'washed his garments in wine and his clothes in the blood of grapes ;'
and who now by this work of His gave token that He was indeed come, that His people's joy might be full. Not less do we behold symbolized here the whole work which the Son of God is evermore accomplishing in the world—ennobling all that He touches, making saints out of sinners, angels out of men, and in the end heaven out of earth, a new paradise of God out of the wilderness of the world.”
So on the miracle of the healing of a woman with an issue of blood, the author concludes his treatment of it in its historical sense by giving the spiritual meaning of one of the fathers. “Theophylact traces
* a mystical meaning in this parable. The complaint of this woman represents the overflowing fountain of sin; the physican under whom she was nothing bettered, the world's prophets and sages, who, with all their medicines, systems and philosophies, prevailed nothing to staunch the fountain of evil in man's heart. To touch Christ's garment is to believe in His incarnation, wherein He, first touching us, enabled us also to touch him; and on this that healing which in all those other things had been vainly sought, follows at once.”
The cursing of the barren fig tree is one of the miracles in which the archbishop himself requires a higher than the literal meaning. The appearance which this miracle presents of unreasonableness in the Lord expecting fruit on this tree when it was not the time of figs, and of His condemning it to perpetual barrenness for not prematurely bearing fruit, are often offered as objections to the Divine character and moral perfection of Jesus.
“ The simplest, and, as it appears to me, the entirely satisfying explanation of this difficulty is the following :-At that early period of the year, March or April, neither leaves nor fruit were naturally to be looked for on a fig tree, nor in ordinary circumstances would any one have sought them there. But that tree, by putting forth leaves, made pretension to be something more than others, to have fruit upon it, seeing that in the fig tree the fruit appears before the leaves. It, so to speak, vaunted itself to be in advance of all the other trees, challenged the passerby that he should come and refresh himself from it. Yet when the Lord accepted the challenge, and drew near, it proved to be but as the others, without fruit as they; for indeed, as the Evangelist observes, the time of fruit had not yet arrived, —the fault, if one may use the word, of this tree lying in its pretension, in its making a show to run before the rest, when it did not so indeed. It was condemned, not so much for having no fruit, as that, not having fruit, it clothed itself abundantly with leaves, with the foliage which, according to the natural order of the tree's development, gave pledge and promise that fruit should be found on it, if sought.
“ And this will then exactly answer to the sin of Israel, which under this tree was symbolized, —that sin being, not so much that it was without fruit, as that it boasted of so much. The true fruit of that people, as of any people before the Incarnation, would have been to own that it had no fruit, that without Christ, without the incarnate Son of God, it could do nothing; to have presented itself
before God bare, and naked, and empty altogether. But this was exactly what Israel refused to do. Other nations might have nothing to boast of, but they by their own showing had much. And yet, on closer inspection, the substance was as much wanting on their part as anywhere among the nations (Rom. ii.)
" And how should it have been otherwise ? for the time of figs was not yet ;-the time for the bare stock and stem of humanity to array itself in bud and blossom, with leaf and fruit, had not come, till its engrafting on the nobler stock of the true Man.
“Here, then, according to this explanation, there is no difficulty either in the Lord's going to the tree at that unseasonable time, -He would not have gone, but for the deceitful leaves which announced that fruit was there,.-nor in the (symbolic) punishment of the unfruitful tree at a season of the year when, according to the natural order, it could not have any. It was punished not for being without fruit, but for producing by the voice of those leaves that it had fruit; nor for being barren, but for being false. And this was the guilt of Israel, a guilt so much deeper than the guilt of the nations. The epistle to the Romans supplies the key to the right understanding of this miracle ; such passages especially as ii. 3, 17-27; X. 3, 4, 21; xi. 7, 10. Nor should that remarkable parallel, “And all the trees of the field shall know that I the Lord have dried up the green tree, and made the dry vine to flourish' (Ezek. xvii. 24), be left out of account. And then the sentence, ‘No man eat fruit of thee henceforth for ever,' will be just the reversal of the promise that in them all nations of the earth shall be blessed—the symbolic counterstroke to the ratification of the Levitical priesthood through the putting forth, by Aaron's rod, of bud and blossom and fruit in a night (Num. xvii. 8). Henceforth the Jewish synagogue is stricken with a perpetual barrenness. Once it was everything, but now it is nothing, to the world; it stands apart, like 'a thing forbid ;' what little it has, it communicates to none; the curse has come upon it, that no man shall eat fruit of it henceforth for ever.'
The last we shall offer is the miracle of the raising of Lazarus. His own treatment of this great work we do not give, because, though excellent in its kind, it contains nothing unusual. The author concludes his own remarks on the raising of Lazarus with this statement:
“In the ancient church there was ever found, besides the literal, an allegorical interpretation of this and the two other miracles of the like kind. As Christ raises those that are naturally dead, so also He quickens them that are spiritually dead ; and the history of this miracle, as it abounds the most in details, so was it the most fruitful field on which the allegorists exercised their skill. Here they found the whole process of the sinner's restoration from the death of sin to a perfect spiritual life shadowed forth; and these allegories are often rich in manifold adaptations of the history, as beautiful as they are ingenious, to that which it is made to declare. Nor was this all ; for these three raisings from the dead were often contemplated not apart, not as each portraying exactly the same truth under different and successive aspects. It was observed how we have the record of three persons that were restored to life—one, the daughter of Jairus, being raised from the bed; another, the son of the widow, from the bier ; and lastly, Lazarus, from
And in the same way Christ raises to newness of life sinners of all