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בס"ד

On Miracles*

A SERMON

*The above is the third lecture on the subject of miracles, and is given before its predecessors by the advice of a friend, in whose judgment in literary matters the editor has every cause to confide; the others, should they be desired, may be given hereafter.

Everlasting God, and eternal Father! accept, we beseech Thee, the humble offering of thanks which thy creatures offer up in thy presence. Non-existing without thy will, powerless without thy aid, what avail unto Thee our acts? what injury can result to Thee, O Most Holy, from our deeds? Yet Thou abidest in the hearts of the lowly and humble, as thy revealed word benignantly teaches, and Thou listenest with favour to the simple supplication which the lisping infant addresses unto Thee. Let it be, then, thy will to receive us also this day in favour and mercy, and let the abundance of the blessing of thy peace be poured out over us and all Israel, thy people. Amen!

BRETHREN!

We have in the preceding lectures shown that the unlimited power of God renders it possible for Him to exercise his pleasure without the least regard to that which in any but the Creator would be beset by insurmountable difficulties. Man, we stated, works with pre-existing materials; God produces the materials likewise. Man is bound within the limits of divine arrangement; he cannot displace the smallest particle of the immense system in which he exists, and of which he is a minutely small integral portion; whilst God is the Maker of this system, and has no one superior to himself to circumscribe his will within the limits of laws and space. A miracle, therefore, if it should not conflict with the designs of the Lord, or, rather, if He chooses to work one by his own immediate power or suffer any spiritual or corporeal creature to effect the same, is within the range of possibility; and its having occurred is then rendered probable, or, in other words, we believe that it has occurred, if the evidence be sufficient to produce the conviction of its truth to our minds, or if the effect stated to have been brought about, and which we know from circumstances to have occurred, be such that ordinary everyday causes could have produced it but imperfectly or not at all, as the case may be. We will now, therefore, define what the Bible calls פאל or wonderful unnatural occurrence, that it seems to designate an effect produced by the power reserved to the Creator alone, to effect changes in the ordinary course of events; which take place to impress a certain truth or some powerful conviction upon the minds of intelligent beings, or at least arrest their attention.

Let us consider the nature of man. He finds himself placed upon earth with an intellect vastly superior to every other creature around him. He soon feels this importance swelling high in his bosom, and straightway he thinks of schemes of aggrandizement, and perchance sees unlooked-for success crown his efforts. Thoughts which were dear to him, in an humbler sphere, in the days when his mind had not reached its great development, are now discarded as unfit for one so great in wealth, so renowned in wisdom; and he enters new paths of life, he invents new schemes of thoughts and feelings at variance with the early lessons of infancy. But just as an individual throws off the lessons of early years, just as prosperity and success induce him to regard himself as superior: so also are entire nations affected by the whisperings of pride which follow the path of success and civilization; and with every step in advance, entire communities have at all times been found to regard with more or less contempt the ideas which were formerly cherished as true and unanswerable, and have also introduced changes in their conduct which were far from improvements. With individuals so acting there are within the power of God the terrors of disease, of mental sufferings, of deprivation of wealth, of death of the beloved, to recall the wanderers to the path of righteousness, to remind them that their course is not one of wisdom, and to admonish them, whilst it is yet time, to retrace their evil steps. With nations, too, there are national punishments which the Almighty wields to correct the crying evils which have been committed by an entire body politic; since He lets his voice be heard in the alarum of the war trumpet; causes his might to be seen in the scanty yield of the fruits of the earth; in the raging pestilence, which slays its thousands and its ten thousands and terrifies those who live in sinful security by bidding the ground to heave beneath their feet, and reel to and fro like a man that is drunk with wine.

We will not now inquire how much of truly miraculous power is directly displayed in all of these apparently natural occurrences; we will not now claim that the very periodical visits of war, of famine, and of pestilence, are such proofs that the Lord is superior to the laws of nature, which in themselves are unable to produce these results; but we will assume the position, that it may in the providence of God be necessary to produce an effect without resorting to terrible warning, or to bless one part of a people whilst the other is punished. For instance, when the Israelites dwelt in Egypt, the scourge of the pestilence, by which an indiscriminate slaughter of all the inhabitants would, in the course of nature, have taken place, could not have answered as a retribution towards the oppressors, inasmuch as the oppressed would have shared the same fate. How then should the Lord act? As he did; by discriminating between the guilty and the innocent, by protecting these whilst the others suffered. Not that the plague was not a thing in the course of nature made the recurrence of it a miracle, but that it spared the property of the Israelites, whilst that of the Egyptians was surrendered to the destroyer.

Now it cannot be denied that these astounding events happen frequently, that the power of the Lord is held out to protect those who deserve his mercy; by we pass them by; we discover nothing wonderful or extraordinary in them; and far from improving our minds, they leave us uninstructed and unwise. One event, therefore, would have produced no conviction in the Egyptians; frequent repetitions of the lesson were requisite; till the obduracy of human reasoning had to yield to the overpowering conviction, that the demands of Moses were the veritable injunctions of the Supreme Ruler of the universe, who, by the deeds then and thus wrought, was pleased to demonstrate his almighty power, exerted, let it be understood, to preserve the truth of his promise, to break the chains of the unjustly enslaved, and to prove the universal truth, which was true from the beginning, and will be true to all eternity, that there is but one God, one Creator, one Savior, who was, who is, and who ever will be; before whom no creative power existed, and after whom there will be none; and with whom there is neither an associate nor a delegate to share in the smallest degree the government of the universe. 

And these are the words of the Bible in reference to this subject:  

"And the Lord said unto Moses, Pharaoh's heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go. Go thee unto Pharaoh in the morning, and thou shalt say unto him, the Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness; and behold, hitherto thou wouldst not hear. Thus saith the Lord, By this thou shalt know that I am the Lord, behold, I will smite with the rod which is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood." (Exod. vii. 14-17.)

Again: "And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Assume glory over me, for what time I shall entreat for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy people, to destroy the frogs from thee and thy houses, that they may remain only in the river? And he said, For to-morrow; and he said, Be it according to thy word; that thou mayest know that there is none like unto our God." (Ibid. viii. 9, 10.)

Farther: "And the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the Finger of God." (Ibid. 19)

Again we read: "And I will sever in that day the land of Goshen, in which my people dwell, that no wild beasts shall be there, that thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth." (Ibid. 22.)

In another passage we read: "But for this reason have I suffered thee to remain, in order to show thee my power; and that my name may be declared through all the earth." (Ibid. ix. 16.) It was then also that Pharaoh for a moment felt humbled, and he sent for Moses and Aaron, and said unto them: "I have sinned this time; the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked." (Ibid. 27.)

It is also said: "And I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and I will smite all the first born in the land of Egypt, both man and beast, and against al the gods of Egypt will I execute judgment; I am the Lord." (Ibid. xii. 12.)

These few brief extracts, which will be more amply confirmed by reading them in connection with their contexts, give us at one view a clear understanding of the object of the miracles related to us as having been performed in Egypt, and it was, what we have always contended for, the fulfillment of the divine intention to establish one people on earth as the depositary of his laws, and the exhibition of himself as the sole Deity to whom worship is due from all creatures. We have before shown, that in the ordinary course of events, by the usual influence of human feelings, the king of Egypt could not have been induced to dismiss a multitude of slaves, who built his pyramids, erected his temples, dug his canals, labored in his fields, and whose intelligence well fitted them for those works where something more than mere brute force was requisite for their execution.

Should his benevolence have been appealed to, his cupidity would have checked the first dawning of kindness for that enslaved race. To an appeal for justice he would have answered, that they who had been bondmen for centuries had no claims to more than mere existence, which they were fortunate enough to receive as a bounty from his royal favor. If reminded of the desperation of men reduced to extremities, who, when willing to be free, might by one great effort break asunder their chains, and wreak their vengeance in rivers of blood upon their oppressors: he would have scorned the threat; have appealed to his hundreds of thousands of warriors, all ready to perish at his nod; have pointed to the many brave swords anxious to leap from their scabbards in defense of the sacred majesty of Egypt, and have exultingly asserted that they who had been so long slaves, and subjected to all manner of ill treatment, could not desire the boon of liberty, and would be unfit to use it becomingly, even should it be conceded to them from his undeserved bounty.

And farther, had he been merely informed that it was a decree of a mighty Deity who wished to protect the slavish race whom he valued so low, whom he regarded as outcasts from humanity, it cannot be otherwise than as the Bible teaches us, that he would not have regarded in the least such a demand, backed by what he must naturally have thought an unwarranted assumption of a divine prerogative, falsely assumed for the God in whose name he was appealed to, by the daring rebel who ventured to enter the royal palace with such unheard of audacity, with such a monstrous request, addressed to the highest monarchical power in the known world, in favor of the meanest slavish people.

Here then was a case where discriminating justice could not send a universal, uniform punishment over the land, which, not merely that it would, without the intervention of the very miraculous power of which we have been speaking, have afflicted the Israelites equally with the Egyptians, would have assuredly been regarded by Pharaoh, his people, and his slaves also, as one of those terrible visitations which occasionally devastate the earth; and it would thus have entirely failed of being regarded as a warning, and consequently it could not have effected the liberation of Israel.

Let us view the many calamitous occurrences of modern times; the terrible wars; the visitation of new pestilential diseases; the frightful conflagrations; the destructions by flood and storms; the general commercial bankruptcy which has destroyed the fortunes of thousands of families all over the earth, that thought themselves secure against the assaults of adversity: let us, I say, view them in their proper light; are they not all manifestations of divine wrath? and yet who heeds the warning that is addressed thereby to all alike? does not every one think that they are but natural events, and have no bearing whatever upon the moral world?

Even should a preacher, in imitation of the ancient prophets, be bold enough to denounce the sins of the age, and apply these disasters to the case of his hearers, and tell them: "It is partly for your sins that the Lord has afflicted the land; repent, that the divine wrath may be diverted from you; return to the ways of righteousness, lest you perish in your iniquity;" --who is there among us that would listen to the words of such a holy man? Would we not look upon him as a mad enthusiast, who applies the ordinary events of life to a purpose for which they have no analogy? And yet modern times are in possession of far greater knowledge of divine truths than were the Egyptians of olden days; especially are the sons of Israel more enlightened in the true knowledge of God's providence, and of his judgments, and of his mercies, inasmuch as they possess the key which opens for them the portals of true wisdom, namely, the holy law, the pure emanation of the most high God. And shall we believe that mere ordinary calamities could have softened Pharaoh's heart? Could have taught his people to revere the everlasting Shield of Abraham? Could have impressed upon the sons of Jacob that they must be holy to a God different from the deities their masters worshipped, when no such knowledge could have come to them in the way of nature, and when, moreover, they suffered from the same evils which befell their masters, arguing from the point that miracles are either impossible, or that the occasion did not call for their being performed?

I leave it to you, beloved brethren, to answer for yourselves these questions, which, rejecting the possibility of miracles, would give replies which bear absurdity upon their very face. For if no miracles had been performed, no knowledge of a system different from Egyptian mythology could have suddenly dawned upon the Israelites; and even could such a thing have come into existence it could never have caused Pharaoh to consent to the dismissal of sixty myriads of able-bodied slaves, as we have said already. The miracles, therefore, recorded in the book of Exodus, (and these are the principal ones which the Bible contains, and are, perhaps, solely the foundations of doctrines of the Jewish church,) were necessary, first to discriminate between those who deserved punishment and those who did not, whilst merely ordinary calamities could not have answered the purpose which Providence had evidently in view with the children of Israel; and, secondly, since the Lord designed to bless his people with a special gift, more valuable than aught else besides, this is to say, the possession of a religion founded upon truth, and immovably uniform in its happy effects upon society in all times and ages, to use such means, to exhibit such attestations, as would best conduce to render the effect permanent, and to impress the new truths upon the minds of so many human beings at one and the same time, that no subsequent miracle should be needed to retain a due knowledge of the law thus publicly and solemnly announced in the minds of the children of man.

We have enlarged before on the necessity of miracles; consequently there is no occasion to dwell on the mere probability of them any longer today. We will therefore turn at once to the question; "Why was it that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt was considered of that paramount importance, as to justify the exhibition of so many miracles in their behalf?" To this we will give the following answer. At a time when the world was nearly overrun by idolatry, the true light of divine wisdom, which emanated directly from the Lord as a gift to the first progenitors of the human family, had not become totally extinct; but it burned brightly in the heart of one at least who dreaded not to avow his conviction before the world fearless of dangers which might result to him from his public confession of unpopular opinions. This wise man delivered the truths he professed to his descendants, of whom he lived to see the third generation, and then descended to the grave honored as the luminary of the world by many nations, and to this day his name is revered among idolatrous people, who honor his example and his virtues, without knowing from whom they are derived. His immediate descendants and their families became by degrees mingled among the inhabitants of various lands; but the truths which Abraham had taught remained not long remembered except by a few who were faithful; and soon the rank falsehoods of superstition, in which a heathen world was sunk, overshadowed the beauties of the divine revelation which had been offered alike to all sons of Adam.

The name of the Lord was not known among those who lived in the fairest portions of the earth; and from the rising of the sun to his setting ascended the smoke of sacrifice, which was incense of abomination to the God of Israel. In this deplorable state of mankind, of which all history bears the amplest evidence, the light of truth had need to be rekindled; and rekindled it was, as we are certified in the holy Scriptures. We acknowledge that the Lord has many ways to accomplish his purposes; it is not for us to say, how He is to effect his will; but without discussing whether he employed the best means or called in the most fitting agents, it is sufficient for us to know, that from the many means and the innumerable agents at his command He chose to establish a people as the means of effecting the reformation of the earth, and these agents He selected from the descendants of Abraham, the friend of the Lord in times of the darkest idolatry. Whatever may be urged against the unworthiness of the Israelites in olden days, and against the many fearful backslidings of the Jews, their successors, at the present time, is nothing to the matter; for any other people might in all probability have become equally rebellious, if not more so than our own nation has shown itself. Only this point of view must be kept before us, that the miraculous redemption of the children of Israel had for its object the establishment of truths, which required an astounding exhibition of the divine power to render them for ever after unable to be forgotten.

Having brought our inquiry to this sole point of any importance to the general inquirer after truth, we have at once an answer to the question: "What is the object of miracles?" It is, namely, the establishment, or confirmation rather, of a fact or series of facts, commonly called truths, in the minds of those persons before whom these wonderful events take place. But please to observe, brethren, any fact attested by a miracle is not true because of the performance of the miracle, but it is true because of the intrinsic nature of itself which constitutes it an undoubted fact or a truth; the miracle makes it only evident to the comprehension of the spectators, under the conviction that the person who is enabled to perform it must needs speak the truth, always supposing that there is no deception or collusion in the performance which he offers as an attestation of the truth of that which, he avers.

Now what is the nature of a truth? This also we have illustrated on a former occasion, and we stated it to be a fact which cannot be otherwise, or an idea of which the reverse cannot be true. If now a miracle has been wrought to attest a certain fact and to exhibit it as of divine origin, and as approved of by the wonder­-working power of the Creator, effected through the agency of one of his holy ministers whom he sends from time to time to instruct and improve mankind: the truth of the fact has been permanently established, not alone for the time being when the miracle takes place, but also for all future times. Understand well, brethren, for it is a material point in the doctrines of our blessed religion, which contradistinguishes it from all other creeds. We just now said, that a truth is not a truth because of the miracle which attests it; but simply from its own intrinsic nature. But this self-evident proposition can be carried yet farther; it is this, that any truth must be always a truth, or what is the same, no circumstances can have any bearing upon its being so under any imaginable view of the question, no matter how slight, or how important this change may seem to all mankind combined.

Let us apply this test to the doctrines which the miracles in Egypt and the wilderness were to confirm or establish. We used above the words "new truths," not however as though these truths then only became such, but as being either then first promulgated or at least generally diffused among the children of man at that time inhabiting the earth. We have already recited, at the commencement of today's lecture, several texts which clearly indicate that it was deemed necessary to establish the unlimited, almighty power, of the Lord, and to prove the nothingness of all the various deities, falsely so called, which were worshipped in Egypt. What did the miracles do in this point of view? They taught Pharaoh and his people something which they did not believe, which nevertheless was true; they believed in, or professed to believe in (it is all the same to us in our present inquiry) an innumerable quantity of tutelary powers, which they represented under various visible shapes, and which images were placed in every part of their extensive country. When notified, let us assume, for the first time, that a Deity, announcing himself under a name which they had never known, demanded of them a sacri­fice which it was galling to their pride to make, and which ma­terially conflicted with their interests: they refused compliance, and they did not yield till sore experience had proved to them, that, though the name of the God in whose name Moses spoke was new to them, He was nevertheless supreme over all, able to accomplish his omnipotent will in all He desired. In this way the Egyptians confessed themselves converts, to the belief in the omnipotence of the Creator. But had the Lord not been omni­potent, the miracles could not have constituted Him endowed with this attribute. Yet He is omnipotent, He was so from the beginning and He must necessarily continue so for ever and ever.

Suppose now a miracle were to be performed, or a story should come down to us related as an historical fact, that at some period a miracle had been performed, by a person who thereby meant to prove that the Lord had parted with his attribute of universal power, would we be able to believe, such an attestation? For our parts, as Israelites, we would maintain, be the prodigy ever so great, the truth of its being performed ever so undoubted, that we would steadfastly reject the evidence thus offered, and support in our thoughts and our words our unshaken belief in the unvary­ing power of the Lord. For that God is omnipotent, that He is a perfect unity; that He is alone, without any associate, is true from the very nature of his being; and if we were by any possi­bility in doubt of this, the revelation of the Bible would have re­moved this doubt. Well, then, what does a miracle prove as such? merely that it has been performed, that an astonishing event has taken place. But has this attestation destroyed in the least the order of nature? has it in the least deprived the blessed Infinity of any power? By no means; miracles, even those wrought actually by God, are extra-natural, and yet destroy not nature; and as all power to work such extra-natural things comes from Him alone, it cannot diminish his ability to work his will, otherwise called his omnipotence, nor can it invest, independently of the actual delegation from the Lord himself, any being whatever with independent ability to do any thing in contravention of the glory and greatness of the Most High.

Nay, more; the revelation of God is the declaration of his will and wisdom. Its announcement was, as we have seen, attested by a public manifestation of prodigies and unheard of wonders. For what was this gift so solemnly attested? Simply to mark it with that seal of divine approbation, the like of which has never yet been given to any other event, save the creation alone. We maintain, therefore, that it cannot be abrogated by any means whatever (of which probably more hereafter), at all events that for its repeal it would require a similar, if not superior public manifestation; than accompanied its first promulgation. We therefore insist upon this point, as the main support for our continuance to uphold the ancient law of Moses in the midst of all the difficulties which have attended its observance, that no means whatever have yet been employed by the Giver of this law to alter, revoke, or annul any part, the minutest even, of the whole system which He confided to our safe keeping; and, moreover, that no miracle, be it ever so well attested, nay more, were it at this very instant effected in. the midst of us, and that we were convinced by the sight of our eyes and the hearing of our ears that there were no deception in the case, can absolve us from the obedience which we as the descendants or successors (for the proselytes too are equally with the sons of Israel children of the law and covenant) owe to the legislation of Sinai; and that consequently all such miracles, admitting as we said that they are real, are not the. attestations which, the Lord will receive as an excuse for our forsaking the religion which He himself, and himself alone, announced to its as that system to which we should remain everlastingly true and faithful. It cannot be that the Lord should mean, all along supposing that a miracle is indeed shown, to contradict by a single fact, or a series of facts, taking place necessarily before a comparatively small number of spectators, that which He deemed of sufficient importance to bring a whole people together in the wilderness, and to proclaim it then and there in the hearing of every man, woman,, and child assembled at the foot of Mount Sinai.

Let us look a little deeper into the case before we close this subject for the present; and excuse me, brethren, if you should find a repetition of what has been said already. That the Lord created the world alone, without aid, without associate, without a division in his own essence was, it is true, the doctrine taught to the. Israelites; but we have said, and said truly, that it was an announcement merely of the everlasting truth of God's existence and unity. Understand, unity means a oneness, without separation of parts, without division into separate individuals. A doctrine; believed in by many intelligent, wise, and good men, asserts that at a time subsequent to the promulgation of the Law, there appeared on earth a personage who claimed to be a part of the godhead, or, at least, to be the mediator, whom, as it is averred, the prophets had announced, (though we expect neither a divine being nor a mediator for Messiah,) and that he attested the truth of his claim by many wonderful exhibitions of miraculous power, even to the raising of the dead convulsing in his own dying moments the whole country where he died, and afterwards rising alive from his sepulchre before his ascent to Heaven to become the mediator and the judge of mankind. We cannot, today, enter into an extensive examination of the subject; we will, therefore, merely ask: Can the performance of all these miracles make true what common sense and the Bible declare as not true? How can the fact that any person raises a dead man unto life establish the falsity as a fact that he is a part of the Deity; or that he is appointed to the formerly unknown dignity of interceder between God and man ?

Could the unity of God be abrogated by a mere miracle? Could his omnipotence to save sinners, to hear prayer, to assist the distressed, be in the least abridged by the destruction of all nature? by the calling into existence of a new world ? Not for such a purpose were the miracles of the Bible wrought; they took place to glorify the Creator before his works; not to, elevate creatures to an even rank with Him; and, consequently, as believers in the Bible; we cannot admit that any number of miracles can attest to that which is not true from the very nature of the terms.

Farther. The word of God as revealed in the Law is either divine or not. We, as believers, assume the affirmative, and all other believers in prophecy admit the same. What does this require? Simply that the Bible is the everlasting truth, and this not because miracles attended its bestowal, but simply because it contains the necessary truths which God thought proper to teach the world. These truths would have been such without a miracle; and, consequently, no miracle can make them other­wise. So it says: “Thou shalt have no other god before my face." Does this prohibition appeal for its truth to the earth­quake which shook the mountain of Horeb when the Lord proclaimed it ?

Again : “Thou shalt not bear the name of the Lord thy God in vain," Was the same miracle requisite to constitute it an everlasting point of the moral law? Also: "Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy; six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work; but the seventh is the day of rest." Did the miracu­lous proclamation of this precept alone render it binding, or was it founded upon a mote firm basis than the evanescent exhibition of a most astounding occurrence?--We could multiply questions of this kind at pleasure, but it needs not; enough, the precepts as well as doctrines depend only on themselves, the latter as necessary deductions from the existence of a spiritual God, the former as the institutions derived from this God, who, being supremely wise cannot be so capricious, as to order acts to be done, which He in a short time would cease to regard with pleasure, or would institute others either altogether new or at least not in consonance with his first legislation.--Here, however, we are met again by persons of a different persuasion, no doubt as honest as we are ourselves, and as sincere in their belief as we can claim to be; they say, that miracles have been wrought to prove that the old covenant has been abolished, and new laws have been substituted in its stead. Could miracles, any thing less than a public legislation, effect such a result we might pause for proofs that such miracles were at one time or the other actually performed; but we need not be so cautious; no where in the Bible is it asserted as a doctrine that any event can do away with what the law institutes as an everlasting ordinance; consequently the performance of many miracles, even to raising the dead and dividing the waters of the great ocean, could not do away with the observance of the Sabbath, the prohibition of image worship or the joining of an adjunct in the service which we offer to the Lord. No, as He is one, everlastingly, unchangeably, and uniformly, in all times and under all circumstances, so must his law be unchangeable, everlasting, uniform; and every miracle, even should one actually be permitted by his omniscience for a wise purpose, will not authorize us to forsake the path which He has taught us to tread.

This doctrine is clearly pointed out in the book of Deuterono­my, the beginning of the thirteenth chapter: “If there arise among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder come to pass whereof he spoke unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams; for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul." And then continues the text:

אחרי ה׳ אלהיכם תלכו ואתו תיראו ואת מצותיו תשמרו ובקולו תשמעו ואתו תעבדו ובו תדבקו

“After the Lord your God shall ye walk, and Him shall ye fear, and his commandments shall ye keep, and to his voice shall ye hearken, and Him shall ye serve, and to Him shall ye cleave."

Here, as usual, in the Bible, is the doctrinal point too self-evident to need any extended explanation; and the words bear out clearly the points of faith which I thought it my duty to teach you in the last lectures, including the one I have been permitted to lay before you this day, that miracles are the instruments of the Lord to work conviction upon the minds of people of truths already existing, or to effect certain purposes which He deems of sufficient importance for Him to subvert for a time or permanently the laws of nature; but that no miraculous attestation can in the least alter any religious or moral truth, or do away with any precept of the Bible whatever; and that should a miracle be permitted which would claim to be an attestation of an opposite doctrine, its evidence must be rejected as contrary to the plain instruction of the Lord, conveyed to us in his blessed book. One more observation, and I have done. Although a spurious miracle is spoken of in our text, there is no particle of evidence that any such was ever wrought, although should it be so, it would not and ought not to weigh in the least as evidence against any part of the Bible just as we have received it. Therefore, sons of Israel, therefore, daughters of Zion! be ever alive to your duty, to the glorious privilege of being the chosen messengers of God's mercy; and let no allurement, no show of great deeds, call you away from the path which was pointed out to you, and which surely leads onward to salvation, yea, as surely as there is one, sole God and Saviour who has created the universe, and who has given us the soul which lives within us!

O God of truth and mercy! We thank Thee for the grace of the law of light which Thou hast bestowed on us. Give firmness to our resolves, that we remain faithful; and let much good result to all mankind from the perseverance of thy people Israel, who have always been true, even under sin, to be sealed by thy covenant, and to walk in the light of that truth which springs from thy own pure essence. And may the words of our mouth, and the meditation of our heart, be acceptable before Thee, O our Rock and Redeemer! Amen.

Veadar 1st, 5603.
March 3d, 1843.