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in order to make manifest his power, and his partiality for the faithful amongst those who hear him.' "Then, James," we reply, "you have mistaken the region in which you are to exhibitChina, Timbuctoo, or the recently discovered island, east of Greenland, must be the place of your intended pilgrimage, for no one where you are, understands the tongues with which you are gifted." And such an answer would be strictly reasonable, because we presume, that any one language may be communicated with as much ease as another, when the process of endowment is performed by miracle. If such be the fact, why was not there imparted to the holy man, one of those tongues which could be understood by any persons in this country? Why leave the miracle subject to question and doubt, since it could have been placed beyond all cavil and incredulity with so much facility? Let us only compare such "gifts of tongues" (and we hope we are not profane in doing so) with the genuine power of languages with which the Apostles were endowed. Need we tell the reader, that when those illustrious preachers were prompted to exercise their miraculous faculty of tongues, they spoke only in the language which their audience could comprehend, and it was thus that they at once silenced all doubts as to the authority of their mission?
The observations which precede this paragraph, were nearly all committed to the press, when we received a brief, but very able and truly pious work; in which, on perusal, we found, as we anticipated from the title, some passages directly bearing on the subject of the present paper. We do not make any apology for citing the following apposite and striking remarks on the subject of "miracles."
'But how does the matter stand with reference to modern miracles? Who are the workers of them? and who, their avowed advocates and supporters? --Persons, all of them, more or less, of a wild, erratic turn of mind. Witness the high state of excitement-the ecstacy-the swoon-the rolling eye-the clasped hands-the agitated frame-the noisy convocation-the mystic utterance! Where is it possible to find an exhibition of fanatical extravagancies, if the recent scenes at Gareloch do not present some of its rankest specimens? Let us look a little more narrowly at these mushroom devotees. Shall we find the aged, experienced Christian among the infatuated tribe? Does the close, textual, enlightened, and judicious student of the Sacred Volume take his station at the feet of the maid of Fernicary? Do we find a Wardlaw there? a Brown? a Belfrage? a Ewing? a Gordon? a Russel? or any other divine profoundly acquainted with "the truth as it is in Jesus?"-No!-with the exception of two or three good men, concerning whom we did hope and expect better things, the followers of our fair visionary consist of young ladies full of ardour, and fond of novelty, or individuals whose minds, inexperienced and unpoised, are like the gallant merchantman that has just left port with, it may be, some precious freight on board, but with too little ballast to give it the
* Modern Fanaticism Unveiled, 8vo. pp. 247. London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1831.
proper and necessary ponderance. Let it not be said that we are re-echoing the cry," Have any of the rulers believed on him?" for, in matters of faith, we are among the last to call any man master upon earth. It is not because these men "sit in Moses' seat," that we appeal to their views and conduct in reference to modern miracles-but because of the eminent and deserved estimation which they have acquired among the brethren in Christ, by their solid learning, sanctified talents, and consistent piety. It is not presumed that this reasoning can, in itself, prove conclusive; but as an auxiliary argument it is deserving of consideration, and ought to have its due weight. A deduction fairly drawn from indisputable premises, speaks loudly as to the merits of the question; but we need not rest them here, for there is much stronger data by which a definitive judgment may be formed.
There is, however, very little hope that any thing can be said with advantage to those who have already succeeded in palming upon their own minds the persuasion that modern miracles are a work of God, and that they themselves, or others, are moved by the Holy Ghost to perform them; and who scruple not to put down sound reason and scriptural argument with, "that's from the devil!"--a sort of oracular decision from which there can be no appeal, without incurring the guilt of blasphemy; but happy shall we be, if our endeavours avail but to fence the ground with cautions and statements of the truth, that may be the means of keeping one youthful mind from venturing within the range of a falsely fascinating influence. And with this view, it is of importance to point out how naturally those surprising circumstances, now ascribed to miraculous agency, and which, in a few solitary instances, are not, certainly, to be regarded as absolute fabrications, may be accounted for upon natural principles. There are some supposable cases in which it would be impossible, without a dereliction of common sense, to explain the occurrence upon any such principles: thus, for example, if Miss Mary Campbell would once favour us by walking on the sea, raising the dead, or drying up the waters of the Gareloch by her word-even a single act of the kind, well authenticated, must put the stamp of credibility on her supernatural pretensions, because nothing within the limits of known natural causation could enable mankind to put any other construction upon it. But what is the utmost stretch of ability, of which this mighty pretender and her compeers have given proof? Why, the whole amount of their executive commission seems to be, the partial healing of two or three invalids; the utterance of unintelligible sounds; and a few instances of interpretation, which, it might be presumed from their rareness, convey some message gravely essential to the interests of the church; though, alas for us! we have not been able to discover in them any thing, certain well-known passages of Scripture excepted, but what is calculated to make a large demand on that kind of sufferance of which the Apostle Paul speaks, when he is showing how men ordinarily used to bear with fools. 2 Cor. xi. 19, 20. It is true, we are not without intimations that "greater things than these" are hatching. In the mean time, let us analyse what we have in hand, by tracing the effects actually produced, to their very simple causes, without going beyond the revealed arcana of nature for their solution. This, however, we cannot attempt, without danger of dispelling some of that spirit of wonderment which shrouds from the view of many, especially of the young, the true
native character of these apparently mystic events. Much of the astonishment excited by hearing of sudden and miraculous cures, "done in a corner," arises from not duly considering the intimate connexion and reciprocal actings of mind and matter in the constitution of human nature. The powerful operations of thoughts, feelings, wishes, purposes, and resolves, in rousing, stimulating, and strengthening the frame, are lost sight of. Is it not a fact, however, that a man, under suitable and sufficient excitement, can overcome difficulties, which, in the absence of such excitement, he would deem insurmountable? And does not the energy elicited by peculiar circumstances, and forcible motives, enable persons very far to outstrip their ordinary powers of action? Observation alone is sufficient to confirm this general proposition, which might easily be carried into detail, and exhibited in its more transcendental modes and influences. The subject of the cure is, not a cold, calculating genius, with a frame naturally athletic, though, it may be, debilitated by diseasebut a young, delicate female, reclining on the couch, and nursed with all the tenderness of maternal or sisterly attention. "The breath of heaven" is not allowed "to visit her face," lest its salutation should hail her "too roughly." Not an ache or pain is complained of, but sympathy hastens to relieve, if possible, by some medical application. The slightest attempt to put her feet to the ground is found impracticable, even though aided by the encircling arm of a kind father, and the assisting hand of devoted friendship. The pensive invalid still droops; and month after month rolls on, without any mitigation of her ailment. At length a pious stranger is introduced to the domestic circle, and the interest which every Christian feels, or ought to feel, in a pious stranger, is kindled in their minds. In grave and solemn accents, he asks the interesting patient, "Do you believe that God is able to heal you?" She replies in the affirmative. He prays with her. The pointed interrogation, the prayer, the thought of Divine omnipotence and goodness, rush conjointly into her heart, and thrill through every fibre of her frame. Emotions are excited of a character perfectly pure, and, at the same time, as perfectly influential, as passions of a less unequivocal kind are known to be in numberless daily instances. "Believe," he says, "only believe"-and again he bends his knees in prayer for her restoration. "Did you not feel," he asks, “a strange sensation while I was praying, as if strength were diffused over you?" "I think I did," is her reply." Then," he adds, "in the name of Jesus Christ, arise and walk." Excitement is now at its climax; and, by one powerful effort, she rises, stands, walks! This resolute plunging into active locomotion is the very remedy prescribed by Dugald Stewart, in his "Philosophy of the Human Mind," when pointing out the best correctives of a disordered imagination: and though the phrase, "a disordered imagination," may seem too strong to be applicable to some instances we have in view, yet there has doubtless existed, even in those instances, a degree, though in milder form, of the same complaint-a morbidity of the fancy, diffusing its enervating influence through the system, and which required nothing more as a counteractive than some sufficiently powerful stimulant to revive and energize the latent powers of action.
The disease, however, may be real, and not in the slightest degree imaginary; and its sudden removal may, nevertheless, have nothing in it of the marvellous, except in appearance. We have recently heard of an
individual who languished, for a considerable time, under some internal and debilitating sickness, which baffled all the efforts of professional skill, till at length the beloved patient sunk in exhaustion, and her happy spirit winged its flight to that region where suffering and death are no more. On a post mortem examination, it was found that all the vital parts were free from disease, and that the cause of death originated in a deranged state of one of the cartilages of the larynx-" which cause," it was observed by a medical friend of the family, "might have been removed, if there had been a possibility of ascertaining the precise nature of the case;" and he farther added, "a strong cough, or sudden and violent emotion, might have proved a cure, by restoring the cartilaginous membrane to its wonted state and proper action." Here, then, is an instance in which, if it had pleased God to interpose the requisite local excitement, and if it had been possible for us to judge of the case according to its true nature, we should have seen the folly and credulity of believing that every sudden cure must, of necessity, be miraculous.'-Modern Fanaticism Unveiled, pp. 101-112.
The latter anecdote constitutes a simple, but most conclusive commentary on the whole history of modern miracles.
The work from which we take the above quotation, is, as we have observed, very unpretending, at least as to its dimensions. We think that it reduces the pretence of miracle working, and, indeed, the whole of the presumptuous doctrine of the immediate interference of God, to an absurdity. The author has divided his work into five chapters. The first is on the doctrine of Assurance, the true Scriptural meaning of which he explains.-Miracles form the subject of the next chapter-and then he goes on to discuss Pardon, and Prophecy, concluding with a bitter, but very just attack on some modern fanatics, under the title of Profane and Vain Babblings. The dignity, modesty, integrity, and simplicity of the Christian religion, are upheld by this writer in a manner which proves that he is thoroughly imbued with its spirit.
ART. V.-Letters and Journals of Lord Byron; with Notices of his Life. By Thomas Moore. Volume II. 4to. pp. 823. London: Murray. 1831.
In the course of our Review* of the former volume of this work, we expressed our regret that Mr. Moore had not used his pruning knife more freely, with regard to the materials which he had before him; as we conceived that many passages were allowed to remain, which were by no means calculated to improve the public morals, or to exalt the character of Lord Byron. It is with great pain we observe, that still stronger grounds for complaint and remonstrance, in this respect, are presented in the volume recently published. We do not refer, altogether, to the almost indispensible introduction into a memoir of Lord Byron, of the name and the
* Monthly Review, vol. xiii. p. 218.
errors of the Countess Guiccioli, although we might justly remark that Mr. Moore has done every thing in his power to disguise those errors, in language of the most indulgent and palliating nature. Compassion and gallantry, whatever morality might do, would perhaps offer a plausible excuse, for all that he has said in favour of that lady, as well as for the quotation of several passages from her passionate journal. But whatever may be the verdict of the critics upon this point, they cannot hesitate, we apprehend, to condemn Mr. Moore in his capacity of editor, for giving to the world most of the letters which Lord Byron wrote from Venice, soon after his departure from England. They detail, in the most unblushing manner, vices of the most degrading nature; they exhibit a nobleman, yet young in years, bringing upon himself premature imbecility and age, by the variety and extent of the wickedness in which he indulged. He paints himself as a frequent adulterer, as keeping open house for the most profligate women of the most profligate town in Italy; and while he narrates his crimes, he openly exults in them as if they were virtues.
We confess that we were wholly ignorant of this part of Lord Byron's career, and were it not for the evidence of his own letters, we never could have believed that he had, in fact, exceeded in profligacy his own Don Juan. Against the publication of the poem under that title, both Mr. Moore and Mr. Murray strongly protested, upon the grounds of its immorality; if they were sincere upon these occasions, we are wholly at a loss to conjecture the train of reasoning, by which they could have since reconciled it to themselves, to unite in laying before the world-not indeed the cantos of Don Juan, but the Venetian letters of Lord Byron, which, from their contents as well as their suppressions, are calculated to be infinitely more injurious to public morals, than any thing which Don Juan contains. In the latter, the effect of licentious thought is a good deal lessened by the atmosphere of poetry, through which it is refracted; whereas, in the epistles, vice is transparent, not only in the language, but in the asterisks beneath which, for very shame, Mr. Moore has been sometimes compelled to take momentary shelter. Does he, indeed, think that these asterisks are hieroglyphics, which cannot be decyphered? Does he flatter himself with the hope, that they will afford no occupation to prurient minds-no encouragement to depravity?
We are surprized, and-considering our regard for Mr. Moore's character and talents-sincerely grieved, by the sophistry with which he has laboured to defend the disclosure of Lord Byron's Italian transgressions. He says, that so long as he had to deal with his friend's gallantries in England, he was obliged to throw as decent a veil over them as possible, out of respect to the public sentiment of the country; but that he no longer feels the same restraint, when the scene of crime is transferred to a foreign climate, where it is in harmony with every thing around it. If Mr.