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The practice of speaking words not understood by the hearers is compared to a predicted manifestation of the Divine displeasure. It surely cannot be of the proper use of the gift of tongues that the Apostle says it was like that a sign to unbelievers, and not to believers. The prophecy refers to the condition of Jews when removed from their own land, and exiled among strangers. It was their punishment that from those around them they heard words they could not understand. Through the abuse of the gift of tongues the members of the Christian Church were afflicted, as the Jews had been when captives in a foreign land. This use of speech was certainly with a purpose different from that of the gift of prophecy with which it is compared. But in the proper use of the two gifts no difference appears. The gift of tongues was one of those spiritual gifts which the Apostle declares were received by some members for the benefit of the whole body (xii. 10). In its proper use it was for the benefit of all, for those who were within the church as well as for those who were without. And so prophecy, as noticed by the Apostle, was equally for both (v. 25).*
The gift of interpretation is distinguished from that of speaking in tongues, but it does not follow that any who were able to speak, were unable to interpret what they said (iv. 10—30). The power of interpreting, as the power of speaking, might be merely natural, or more than natural. For the understanding of Jewish worship by Gentiles, only the gift of interpretation was requisite. Hebrew was not requisite in ordinary communication with Jews, but only for a participation in their religious services. The interpretation referred to by the Apostle in his directions, is not said to require any spiritual endowment. Those who could speak other tongues were to be approved by the Church, and their qualifications for special services were to be shown. All speaking in another language than the Greek could not be forbidden; but all was prohibited that could not be interpreted to the profit of the assembly. A Hebrew psalm or lesson might be spoken by a Jew in a Greek assembly, if there was one who could interpret it for the benefit of those who were unacquainted with this language. Foreigners might in their own speech address the Corinthian Church, if an interpreter was present to make their words intelligible to all. And those who had been supernaturally endowed, might show to their brethren what they were able to say to others, provision being made that all should understand.
* If when properly used the gift of tongues was a sign not to believers, but to unbelievers, then it could not be exclusively for the devout men, who were enabled by the Spirit to understand what they heard.
Language was the Churc proof that need Greek is more thanender the Epist was equally Fam.consisted of this ignorant of ting to the
It may be allowed that the gift of tongues was not necessary for the early diffusion of the Gospel; but neither was the gift of healing, nor any of the extraordinary gifts. It is enough that it would be useful, and this is certain. If the inhabitants of the cities could generally speak Greek, the country people had but little acquaintance with it; and the knowledge which was sufficient for commercial purposes, would be often inadequate for religious instruction. The intercourse of St. Paul with people of many lands, and his desire to do good to all, might well render him thankful that he could speak with tongues more than any other teacher (v. 18). That he used Greek in writing to the Church at Rome, is no proof that he was ignorant of Latin. A large part of the Church consisted of those to whom the Greek language was equally familiar, and it was the language in which the Epistle would be most generally useful.
That this gift was of such a nature that it must now be altogether incomprehensible, is a supposition in which few will readily acquiesce. Christianity is for all ages and nations, and it is distinguished from superstitions, by the light which it contains, and casts on all around it. The modern delusions which have been the result of folly or fraud, cannot serve much to illustrate the nature of a gift truly spiritual and divine. It is not easy to understand how a new language could immediately contribute to any elevation of thought or excitement of feeling in the speaker: nor how those who heard it could mistake it for their own native speech. If the symbolical as well as instrumental character of the gift bestowed on the day of Pentecost is considered and the account of what was afterwards granted to Gentiles be regarded as similar but complementary to what was first given to Jews-and if the statements of St. Paul be read as referring not to the Divine purpose, the proper use of the gift, but to the practice of foolish persons, who used improperly their extraordinary as well as their ordinary endowments-then most of the objections to the common interpretation of the narrative of the day of Pentecost are removed. The miracle is seen to be truly Christian, and the history and Epistle to be in perfect harmony.
J, H, G.
THE LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION.
NEVER since the days of George Canning has a public man been baited and worried as Mr. Gladstone has been during the last few months. Sir Robert Peel had doubtless to endure a severe fire of criticism after his abandonment, first of the Orange, and afterwards of the Protectionist cause; but the circumstances of the case were sufficient to explain the fierceness of the assault, and, with the exception of Mr. Disraeli's philippics, it was not characterized by that bitterness and malignity which has been shown towards Mr. Gladstone. His party have not to complain that he has abused the confidence they have reposed in him, they cannot charge him with insincerity or unfaithfulness, they have no reason to be ashamed of his policy as unwise or unpatriotic, but, on the contrary, have reaped all the honour accruing from his enlightened and liberal administration of the national revenue; yet they have allowed him to be humiliated in the presence of the world, and not a few have themselves assisted in the process. It is hardly too much to say that the Tory policy for the last twelve months has had for its aim the one object of discrediting Mr. Gladstone. “The Opposition of last session,” says the Saturday Review, “ found it necessary to show that they were right in saying that Mr. Gladstone never could lead the House of Commons.” Hence the constant attempts to wound his sensitive nature, and if possible goad him to a display of temper which might furnish them with fresh grounds of attack; hence the persistent misrepresentations of any phrase by the distortion and perversion of which it might be possible to damage him; hence the wearisome iteration with which the journals of the party have been for ever ringing the changes upon his petulance and ill-temper.
All this the Saturday would have us believe is quite in the ordinary course of things: “It is a recognized party strategy." If it be so we are indeed in a sorry plight. To take exception to a rival's policy, to analyze it with care, and criticise it with a severity that sometimes appears merciless, to adopt all sorts of parliamentary arts for the purpose of gaining an advantage over him, has of course always been regarded as justifiable party tactics. But if strategy is to go further than this—if a man's political adversaries are to study his personal weaknesses in order that they may play upon them for their own ends—if it be one part of the parliamentary game to irritate an opponent by the
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most cruel taunts and insinuations in the hope of making his temper discredit his talents—then the sooner such strategy is branded by the House of Commons with the indignant reprobation it deserves, the better for its own reputation and the interests of good government in this country. For it is highminded and conscientious men, the men of true genius and lofty moral tone, who will be influenced by such conduct, and who, rather than encounter treatmentso ungenerous and unmanly, will resolutely refuse to descend into the political arena. Recent events indeed would almost seem to show that a statesman of this order is not fitted to lead the House of Commons. It rather resents the intellectual superiority which it is constrained to recognize, and is glad to find out some reason for depreciating one whose very eminence is offensive; it imputes the earnestness with which it does not sympathize to passionate feeling rather than intense conviction; it treats the firmness of consistent principle as mere obstinacy and waywardness; it is more ready to pardon vacillating weakness than that manly decision which, because it will not stoop to unworthy compromises, it regards as overbearing dictation. It has its prejudices and fancies, and it applauds the man who is shrewd enough to see them and pliant enough to pander to them. With all his faults, his chicanery, his love of all sorts of surprises and stratagems, his want of any guiding principle, it has a sneaking tenderness for Mr. Disraeli. Notwithstanding all the qualities which have earned for him the confidence of his own country and the admiration of the world, and reflected a lustre on the assembly of which he is the most distinguished ornament, it has never heartily liked Mr. Gladstone ; he is too honest, too much in earnest, and altogether too able, to suit the taste of the mediocrities who form so large a proportion of its members, and so many of whom, not having any strong sentiments of patriotism or love of liberty themselves, are unable to appreciate them when seen in another.
The treatment which Mr. Gladstone has received from certain portions of the press is not less discreditable than that which is being dealt out to him in Parliament. The Edinburgh Review led the van in an attempt to undermine his authority, and had the coolness to propose that he should be content to serve under the scion of some Whig house. But the thing was too barefaced ; even some who did not profess an enthusiastic admiration for Mr. Gladstone pronounced it too bad ; it soon became evident that neither the Liberal members nor the country would stand it, and the only result was to exhibit the mingled feebleness and spite of the old Whig clique, who still guide the course of the buff and blue. The T'imes, to do it justice, has been too wise in its generation, and too thoroughly alive to the estimation in which Mr. Gladstone is held by the public at large, to join in any bitter assault upon him. It has often criticised his policy unfairly, it has put false interpretations upon some of his actions, it has of course reiterated the vulgar cry that the failure of last year's Bill, to which it so largely contributed, was owing to his bad management, not to the insincerity of the House itself. But it has not assailed him personally, except so far as was necessary to the carrying out of its own special purpose. Like a large party, whose views it truly reflects, having been determined last year that no Reform Bill should pass, it is equally resolved this year that any Bill shall pass. It would doubtless be very glad, as would a great many others, to have again the lost opportunity of last year; but as this cannot be, it is content to take Mr. Disraeli's measure, hoping that it may settle a very inconvenient agitation. It is therefore displeased with Mr. Gladstone, because he will not accept this miserable time-serving policy, but it has never directed against him those fierce tirades in which some other papers have indulged.
The Saturday Review has won for itself an unenviable notoriety by the cold-blooded malignity and atrocity of its attacks. We have long ceased to expect from its superfine critics anything like generosity or nobility of feeling, but we did hope that there would have been some regard to decency and gentlemanly propriety in discussing the conduct of one who, whatever his defects, is on all bands confessed to be the first statesman of his age. But he has committed the unpardonable offence of daring to argue political questions on the ground of moral and social right. He actually dared on one occasion to remind those who were directing their sneers and gibes against the working classes, that they were fellow-citizens and fellowChristians, and this is a transgression not to be condoned. To what lengths of bitterness and uncharitableness this feeling can carry men may be learnt from the articles which appeared in the “ Saturday" of March 23rd and 30th, which happily are without a parallel in our newspaper literature. In the first, under the heading of “Broken loose again," we have such sentences as the following: “We all know the frightful display of violence which a reformed drunkard displays when he gets back to his bottle. Seven weeks of sobriety is Mr. Gladstone's stint to candour and generosity and self-restraint. And we all know what follows upon Lent and Ramadan. Vigils and fasting take it out in riot and license.” “Pique was perhaps paramount when he surveyed a measure which, encumbered with a thousand faults, at least presented one clear, definite, and intelligible