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that on oned is plaini yen different
with the Spirit of God; yet for all that it was possible to organize, to control, and even to suppress them. But when once the emotion was indulged and the strong feeling let loose, it was apparently impossible to stop it, and the speaker was driven on like Saul when he prophecied, till wild confusion was the result. In any case it was a "sign," a mightier proof than any ability to speak in foreign languages would possibly have been, that the power of God had come down into men.
Let us now turn to the Acts of the Apostles. Does not the account which is given there upset our hypothesis, and prove that on one occasion, at least, the gift of tongues did actually consist, and is plainly said to have consisted in the ability to speak in, at least, fifteen different dialects and tongues? By no means. In this account of the event which occurred on the day of Pentecost, we find no refutation, but rather a strong confirmation, of our opinion; and maintain, unhesitatingly, that even then the disciples did not speak in the languages named ; that the writer of the Acts neither affirms, nor intended to imply, that they did so, and that it is only by forcing his description that such a conclusion can be drawn from the passage.
We have only to picture the scene to our own minds. There are a hundred and twenty persons assembled together in one place, waiting and looking for the promise of the Father. Suddenly a rushing wind is heard, which seems to come directly from the sky, and it not only shakes but fills the house where they are sitting. Immediately afterwards a brilliant light is seen; tongues of fire rest upon every head, and, as the spirit of God, with new and mighty force, fills every heart, the hundred and twenty at once and together give expression to their excited and exalted feelings in a language suited to their emotions, and praise God “with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." While they are thus engaged, the report of some strange phenomenon spreads through the city, and a crowd gathers, which swells at length to at least three thousand men. As this crowd is collecting, the amazement becomes most intense; for, whereas the disciples still continue their praise, the “ devout men out of every nation under heaven,” as soon as there is order enough for them to listen at all, hear every man in his own tongue wherein he was born. Now, upon the ordinary theory that the disciples spoke in all these different languages, the question at once suggests itself, by what process could the three thousand be enabled to understand what they were saying? Just imagine an Englishman, a Frenchman, and a German all speaking together to a mixed congregation, composed of men from these three nations, not a syllable would be understood. Even if twenty Englishmen were to speak all at once to
e in all it by what prote they were seems
a hundred of their own countrymen, not a man present would comprehend a word that they said. But if, instead of twenty, there were a hundred and twenty all speaking together, and that not in one language but in fifteen languages at least, whilst the men who understood those languages were mixed together in a crowd of no less than three thousand, a moment's consideration will show that, on any hypothesis, it could only have been by a miracle that they could hear them speak in their own tongues the wonderful works of God. Nothing but a careful distribution of the crowd, by which all the men of a nation should be grouped together, whilst one of the disciples addressed them; or a wellarranged programme, according to which only one disciple should speak at a time, and the different languages should be taken in turn, could possibly accomplish the end desired.
How different is anything of this kind from the simple words of our narrative? The hundred and twenty are pouring out their feelings before God in unwonted sounds, apparently in perfect unconsciousness of the gathering crowd. The multitude swells and still they continue their songs of praise. But as “the devout men” listen, a new miracle appears, “What meaneth this?" says an Egyptian to his neighbour, “Are not all these Galileans, and yet I hear them declaring in my own tongue the wonderful works of God.” “ Surely that cannot be,” replies his astonished Mesopotamian brother, “their words fall upon my ear, like the familiar sounds of my own distant home." Thus the amazement swells, as the same question and answer run the whole circle round, and it is found that “they hear every man in their own tongue wherein they were born.” And when the astonishment has reached its height, the wonderful sign ceases, and Peter rises to explain that “this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”
The only objection that we can imagine it possible for any one to offer to this explanation, is that it requires a double miracle. But the force of such an objection is taken entirely away by the fact, that whatever theory we may adopt, it will still be necessary to assume that a double miracle was wrought, if we are not prepared to deny that there was any miracle at all, and if the words are to be understood in their literal and grammatical sense. An orderly grouping of the crowd, according to their separate languages, would have been a second miracle; unless, indeed, there had been collusion beforehand. And we must either assume that the disciples spoke at one sitting in all the languages of the earth, or admit that a second miracle was wrought in the inspiration of the disciples to know precisely what countries were represented in that large crowd.
And why should we be so afraid of the conclusion, that the grandeur of the New Dispensation was displayed in the fact that a double miracle ushered it in? We are quite ready to admit that if the second miracle had been wrought upon a mixed mob, composed of men of all characters and creeds, it would not have been in harmony with the ordinary law of the New Testament, according to which some subjective fitness seems to have been a general, if not an invariable (prerequisite for such as were of a strictly spiritual order (Matt. xii. 58 or Mark vi. 5,6). But the second miracle was not wrought upon the whole mob promiscuously. The Spirit of God conferred the power of hearing and understanding upon those who came together, for the very same reason for which, on a subsequent occasion, the power of “speaking with tongues” was conferred upon Cornelius and his associates, namely, because they were “devout." If any man were disposed to mock, he understood nothing, and the disciples only appeared to him to be full of new wine. And what could be more fitting, under the circumstances referred to, than that whilst the disciples, who were filled with the Spirit, gave proof that the Spirit with which they were filled had been shed forth by one who was “at the right hand of God," by giving utterance in a new tongue to words and songs unmistakeably heavenly and divine, the same Spirit should inspire devout men of every nation to hear and understand the song, so that whilst waiting for the consolation of Israel, they received, in themselves, the proof that the Spirit which Christ had poured out upon His disciples was truly the “presence of the Father," and, therefore, that Jesus Himself was the promised Messiah ?
The world had just received the greatest of all gifts from God. Earth and heaven were now united by a new and indissoluble bond. The Church of Christ was adopted by the Lord God of Sabaoth as his last and truest temple. The Tabernacle and Temple made with hands gave place to the living temple of the Holy Ghost, and God attested in a new way His glorious entrance into the new temple. When Moses had completed his work, and the Tabernacle was set up, "a cloud covered the tent, and Moses was unable to enter because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the Lord filled the Tabernacle.” When the temple of Solomon was finished, the house was again filled with a cloud, because “ the Lord had said that He would dwell in the thick darkness.” But when the last and living temple was inaugurated, the glory of God was manifested not in darkness, but in light, and “there appeared cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.” The new life and power were also revealed in new forms of adoration. When the Tabernacle was consecrated, Moses “set the bread in order," and "lighted the
Ard in pravith the the Lordat in the and inspiirit
lamps," and “ burnt sweet incense.” The opening of the first Temple was also accompanied with the highest praise that men could bring—"the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and they lifted up their voices with the trumpets and cymbals and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, for He is good, for His mercy endureth for ever.” But in the opening of the true temple, God prepares His own instruments and inspires His own praise. “They spake with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." And, whilst with one heart and soul the whole Church, small as it then was, poured out in new and celestial music the lofty praises of the Lord; just as the one pure light is separated into all the prismatic colours of the rainbow, and falls here as red, there as orange, and there again as purple or as blue, so the one pure tongue, which is but the unity of all “other tongues," so far as they proceed from God, was resolved and distributed by the Spirit of God, and fell in such sounds upon the attentive ears of every devout listener that, standing arrested by the marvellous sign, as they have already been drawn by the majestic and appalling wonder, “ They were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born ? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judæa, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” Nottingham.
CONFESSIONS OF A CROSS DEACON.
" CONFESSION,” they say, " is good for the soul," and I am going to make, what some would call, “a clean breast of it.” Perhaps some would not envy me my task; all I say is—every one to his taste. At any rate, it will do me good to relieve my mind, and I don't think it will do my readers any harm to listen to iny
story. Besides, “every medal has its reverse,” as the Italians say; and if I have to confess that I've stirred up some breezes in my time, why, “it's an ill wind than blows nobody any good.”
The fact is - I'm a cross deacon. Perhaps you will say, there's nothing uncommon in that, but I shouldn't agree with you, for I never agree with anybody. Besides, I think, as a rule, our deacons are a good-natured lot of men, in fact, much too good-natured. Easy souls, they put up, every day, with what I never did and never will; and that, you see, is just the difference between them and me. They pride themselves on their weakness; I pride myself on my strength. Our good, dear Mr. Smith, came to me the other day and asked me to agree to a new-fangled proposal, for lighting the chapel with oil instead of candles, and his words were as soft as oil when he spoke.
“You see, brother Smith,” said I, “ you've mistaken your man, when I was young I read John Foster's book—a wonderful book that the greatest book that ever was written on “Decision of Character," and I've learned to say, NO."
“But don't you think,” replied brother Smith, " that people may make a mistake? It seems to me that it is mostly those who already are quite decided enough who read John Foster on 'Decision, and so they seem to make their obstinacy into a Christian grace." And I've thought since that there was something in what brother Smith said, but of course I wasn't going to admit it to him, and I told him I didn't agree with him.
It's wonderful the advantage one gets from decision of character—having a will of your own. Of course it is unpleasant to be called ill-natured, and cantankerous and cross, but I've laid my account with that, and got used to it. You see I always have a straightforward course to take, and if, sometimes, people get their toes a little trodden on, why, they should keep their toes out of the way. There's good-natured old Mr. Benson; why you could persuade him to anything, and he would cheerfully allow, if he could, that black is white for the sake of peace. Catch me doing that! Why, I wouldn't admit that white is white to please any one of them. Young Adams, “a rising man,” they say, tried it on with me at the last election. They had got a good sort of candidate on the other side-rather a great gun they thought, a Liberal and a Nonconformist, bred and born in the neighbourhood and what not; and they reckoned on me to support him. Not I, I let them know that I was a "free and independent elector," that I had a mind of my own, and so I voted for the opposition to surprise them, and to show that I wasn't going to be cajoled or bullied by anybody. Just before the election