My idea of the Church is derived from its name, “The body of Christ;” and of its endowment from the words following, “The fulness of Him that filleth all in all,” (Eph. 1.23.). It is one as much as the Spirit is one: “There is one body, and one Spirit,” (Eph. 4.4) and as the body without the spirit is not the complete work of God, so neither is the spirit without the body. When Christ went unto the Father, He entered into the promise of the Holy Ghost, and being seated on the Father’s throne, began to act the Father’s part, of governing the world. Since that time He hath been known as the Spirit, and not as the visible Christ. But a spirit is not that which God appointed this world to be governed by. He made man to be His image and His King, and man is an embodied spirit. And when man became enslaved to Satan, God, keeping in His own hand the sovereignty, which had reverted to Himself through the disobedience of His vicegerent, did hold it, not in His character of a pure spirit, but did assume to Himself, in the Word, the parts, affections, properties, and attributes of a man, because as a man He was to redeem all, and to govern all. And now that as a man He hath redeemed all, and is governing all, it were inconsistent with the great idea of the man-governor, and not the spirit-governor, that Christ should now rule from His invisible throne in the spirit without a body. This body is the Church, of which He, Christ, is not only the Spirit, but likewise the Head. And the Church is united to Him, not only by having Him inspiring her, but likewise by being united with Him who is on the throne of God, being His instruments, His members, for demonstrating before the world as much of that power and authority which He hath attained to, as is proper for this present state and condition of the world. This body, the Church, the Father giveth to Him. It is the Father’s gift of an inheritance in the saints unto His Son, Christ. It is the Father’s bringing a spiritual seed out of Him. It is the Father’s forming a wife out of Him. It is the Father’s producing from Him a race of sons of God, in room of those who heretofore mixed themselves with the daughters of men, and forfeited their high estate. It is the Father’s deriving from Christ the royal family of kings and priests by whom He is to govern the worlds. And the Church, thus constituted to be the body of Christ for ever, through whom unto eternity He may put forth the fulness of Godhead which is in Him, hath at present upon the earth the very same function to discharge; being unto Christ for a body wherein to abide, and whereby to act out before the world that office of a gracious Lord and holy Christ to which He hath been exalted by His resurrection from the dead. I say, the self-same office doth the Church now, and upon this earth, discharge, which she shall for ever and over all creation discharge; being the members of one Christ, united by one spirit, and constituting one household, and following one invariable rule and principle of government, though consisting of many persons, divers memberships; and perhaps also to occupy, as they now do, various places in the one creation of God. Just as, to compare great things with small, our king, by his members, the ambassadors, governors, judges, lord-lieutenants, &c., doth exercise one government, with one law and principle, with one will and one mind, over the vast extent of his dominion; so our invisible King, the Lord Jesus Christ, doth at present put forth, by means of His Church, that power and authority upon this earth which is proper now to be put forth. This is our idea of the Church; and we give it without hesitation as the true one set forth in the Scriptures.
The next question which ariseth is, Into what power hath Christ entered; and how much of that power is it His good pleasure to put forth upon this earth during this dispensation of His absence? With respect to the first part of the question, I answer in His own word: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.” Seated in God the Father’s throne, He holdeth God the Father’s sceptre, and exerciseth God the Father’s dominion. He is now creation’s God, as He was heretofore creation’s Surety and Bondsman: He is now creation’s sceptre-bearer, as He was heretofore creation’s burden-bearer. Formerly He shewed Himself the suffering, mortal man; now He shews Himself the ruling, life-quickening God. It is this accession of honour and of power to which as Christ He passed, upon His leaving this world and going to the Father, that forms the ground of His consolation to His Church, under the present dispensation of His absence. Therefore, said He, it was expedient for them that He should go away, for otherwise the Comforter could not come: therefore, said He, they should do greater works than He had done, because He went unto the Father. And, in short, the key to the whole of that consolatory discourse contained in the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th chapters of John is this, that by being absent from the Church in the world, and present with the Father, He should enter into the glory and the power which must ever abide with, and ever proceed from, the secret of the Father’s dwelling-place; which to possess and to occupy, He must enter there, where creature never before did enter, and never shall enter again, and where He entered, because He was Creator as well as creature. And this high reward of His faithfulness, and demonstration of His Divinity, and repossession of the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, having received unto Himself, He would, to the extent this present world can bear, make manifest by means of those whom the Father had given Him out of the world to be one with Him, as He is one with the Father. With this comfort He comforteth His Church over His absence, and assureth them that He would send unto them the promise of the Father, even power from the Holy Ghost, when the Holy Ghost should have come upon them, (Luke 24.49; Acts 1.4, 8.) That the Church was to be made sharers in some way of that accession of power and glory into which He is exalted, is the consolation with which He comforteth them, and for the which He desireth them to wait in Jerusalem until they shall receive power from on high. And as to the other part of this inquiry, to wit, How much of this new dignity and power it is proper for Him to render, through the Church, visible unto the world, we are willing to be guided by the fact that it was communicated on the day of Pentecost, and by the testimonies as to what this was contained in the Holy Scriptures. That gift of the Holy Ghost, which was then given, is the same unto which we are all baptized, (Acts 2.38-39,) and with the hope of which He comforteth His Church over His absence; which, therefore, is our comfort, and ought to be our possession. The question is, then. What was the gift of the Holy Ghost at that time communicated to the Church? for this is what we are commanded to hold fast till He come.
Was it the gift of perfect holiness in flesh? I answer, No. This we have in consequence of His life, and death, and resurrection, or rather His life and death; for as to this His resurrection did but seal what His life and death had purchased. That which was by His life and death accomplished is, the putting away of sin and death from mortal and corruptible flesh. “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” “He put away sin by the sacrifice of himself” So far, therefore, as perfect holiness is concerned, we have it in virtue of a work completed at the resurrection, not in virtue of the “promise of the Father,” which He received after His resurrection. In order to become members of His body, we must believe upon His work of putting away sin from all flesh by His life and death; by which faith we enter into a holy subsistence in the holy flesh of Christ offered for us on the cross, and are no more in the flesh, but in the Spirit, and live no more after the flesh, but after the Spirit. This regeneration, this renewal after the image of God in righteousness and true holiness, this dismissal (or, as our version lamely translates it, remission) of sins we are baptized into, and every baptized person is answerable for the same. But this is distinct from the gift of the Holy Ghost, into the promise of which we are also baptized; and not to be confused therewith, without confusing the work which Christ by the Spirit did in flesh with that promise of the Holy Ghost into which He entered when He went out of the world unto the Father. There is a work which Christ did in the world; and there is, distinct from this, a glory and a power and a work which it was put upon Him to enjoy and to execute when He went out of the world. We obtain the former by eating His flesh and blood, through faith, and thereby become members of His holy flesh, to do in flesh the work of holiness which He also did. The other we are thereby qualified to become sharers in, by being made members of His body; and in it we share by receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, shed down upon the Church on the day of Pentecost, to enable the Church to put forth of that fulness which is in her Head, so far forth as it is convenient and proper that the same should be put forth in this mortal state before this sinful world. Perfect holiness is the inward law and condition of the Church, by which her union with her perfectly holy Head is preserved. Power in the Holy Ghost is her outward action, as the body of Christ, in the sight of the world; unto the manifestation of Christ’s name by the Church, as He had manifested the Father’s name; unto the proclamation of Christ’s power, grace, and goodness unto the world, as He had proclaimed the Father’s. Christ, by His union with the Father, did, in the days of His flesh, proclaim the Father’s glorious name and superabounding grace; with which the Father being satisfied, doth, for the time thence following, identify the name of Christ with His own, and constitute a Church in the world, which, by her union with Christ, shall be able to testify to the name and glory of Christ, who testifieth to the name and glory of the Father. Christ having been, and being, the Father’s true and faithful witness, doth become the person witnessed of, and the Church are His witnesses; whom to witness is to witness unto Him who witnesseth unto the Father. But in our witness we are able to go further than Christ went, for this reason, that in the days of His flesh, the mortality of flesh, and sin in flesh, and the principalities and powers of darkness, therein holding their throne and revelry, were not yet conquered, condemned, and openly made a show of; the prison-house of the grave was not yet opened, nor its captivity was not yet led captive. The Captain of our Salvation entered into a field wherein the legion of our enemies lay encamped in battle order; we enter into a field all strewn with the wrecks and spoils of their defeat. We are baptized into flesh redeemed, into a world disempowered, whose prince is judged and cast out. We come not to fight a battle which is already fought, but to ride over the necks of a prostrate foe. They idly speak who say that He had not so many enemies as we that He had not flesh to contend with. Oh, what an error! It is there we have the advantage of Him, and enter into the fruits of His victory. He wrestled with sin in the flesh, and condemned it utterly, dispossessed it, and cast it out; we enter into the fruits of His warfare, of His toil and sweat and blood. O ye thoughtless and ignorant men, (for ignorance is your only apology,) why will you go about to take away from Christ the glory and the greatness of His work! I am ashamed of you. I grieve that such things should be spoken in the bosom of my mother’s family. They cannot long be spoken without calling down judgment upon the house. Either the truth must be confessed, and the house saved, or it must be cast out, and the house destroyed. But to return.
What portion of the power now possessed by Christ is proper to be put forth upon the earth during this season of Satan’s presence therein, is still in question before us; though I hope, from what hath been said, it is no longer in question how that measure and portion of it shall be put forth. The body is the organ by which the spirit within a man doth manifest itself to the world; and the body of Christ, which is the Church, is the organ by which He, acting from the invisible seat of the Father by the invisible Spirit, must manifest Himself unto the world. There is no other medium of communication between Christ abiding with the Father and the world but the Church in the flesh; and herein the Church in the body hath a manifest importance, and, I would say, pre-eminence of usefulness, over the Church disembodied, in that she is the organ of communication between the invisible Christ and the visible world. This being fixed and settled, we now come to the nice inquiry, How much of that power, which Christ hath received, is it befitting to Him and the Father to put forth by the Church in this the day of His absence? And, first, it may be asked, Why not the whole? The answer is. That if the whole were put forth, the devil would be cast out, and all wicked men with him, and sin, and death, and all obstruction, and contradiction, and darkness, and dishonour, into the lake that burneth, there to consume for ever and ever; and there would be nothing to be done at his coming again. There is an economy in the putting forth of that power which resideth in the Father’s throne; an economy which answereth to the times and the seasons which the Father hath put in His own power. Therefore it is that in the writings of the apostles the gift of the Holy Ghost is spoken of only as a first-fruits of that which is yet to be received; and the full harvest is made to consist in the redemption of the body, as it is written, (Rom. 8.23,) “And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.” This passage instructeth me, that the gift of the Spirit by the Church, now possessed, is the first-fruits of that complete power of the Spirit which she shall possess when the body shall be redeemed from the corruption of the grave; and the context further instructeth me, that the whole creation is groaning, and travailing, and crying unto God, for a redemption which she shall receive at the same time from the bondage of corruption “The whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now; and not only they,” &c. “The earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God.” The apostle Paul evidently saw the redemption of the bodies of the saints, and their manifestation as the sons of God, and with them the redemption of the whole creation from its present bondage, to be that complete harvest of the Spirit whereof the Church doth now possess only the first-fruits, that is, the first ripe grains which could be formed into a sheaf, and presented in the temple as a wave-offering unto the Lord. Most strikingly confirmatory of this is what he declareth concerning the same gift of the Spirit, in his Epistle to the Ephesians, (chap. 1.13-14:) “In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” And likewise in the 4th chapter of the same Epistle he saith, ” Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” And the selfsame language holdeth he twice over in his 2d Epistle to the Corinthians, (1.22)—”Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts;” (v.5,)—”Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.” In all these passages the gift of the Spirit which the Church had received, and was possessed of, is set forth as an earnest or pledge of what she is to receive and possess against that day called the day of redemption, and the redemption of the inheritance. The inheritance is the earth and the inferior creation; not yet redeemed from the bondage of corruption, but to be redeemed, according to St Paul, in the day of the manifestation of the sons of God; in the day of the redemption of the body; in the day of the resurrection of the saints; in the day of the casting out of the devil and his works; in the day of the destruction of death, and the victory over the grave. The “earnest” (by which it is also named) is, like the first-fruits, only a part of that which is yet to be earned; and also, like them, of the same kind, but not in the same measure; a partial, not a complete thing,—yea, but a small part of the whole, and yet sufficient surety that the whole shall, in the fulness of the times, be likewise ours. Wherefore, also, it is called the seal, being that mark which God affixeth upon His people, and by which He determineth that they are His.
Now, if any one has been accustomed to interpret these passages of the regenerating and sanctifying work of the Holy Ghost, he must, with all speed, disabuse himself of that error, which compromises a great point of personal holiness. For if the thing spoken of in these passages be regeneration and sanctification, then is that work of the Spirit only a partial and incomplete work, and we cannot look for anything beyond a first-fruits of holiness, an earnest of holiness; which is to sanctify the imperfections and shortcomings of a believer, and to fix him in very partial holiness, and to take away from him both the hope and the desire of being holy as God is holy, and perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. No: we are baptized into perfect holiness, into the positive and absolute dismissal of all sin, into the burial of the flesh with its corruptions and lusts, the quickening of the Spirit into all holiness. “The law of the Spirit of life doth make us free from the law of death;” and every shortcoming from this perfect righteousness is a stain upon our white raiment, which must be instantly confessed and grieved over, and washed white in the blood of the Lamb; it cannot be tolerated, it cannot be indulged, it cannot be sanctioned from Scripture; it ought not to exist within the Church it; is an offence to God, a disgrace to the body of Christ, and cannot be justified by any means. Those passages of Scripture, therefore, which speak of a gift of the Spirit which is only first-fruits of something greater and better, cannot, must not be referred to regeneration and sanctification, but to that power of government and authority entered into by Christ when He passed out of the world unto the Father; whereof it is expedient and economical that a part only should be possessed and exhibited by the Church during this our mortal estate. It is, moreover, manifest that these passages have nothing to do with the cleansing of the conscience from dead works, which proceeds from the blood of Christ, (Heb. 13.;) and the answer of a good conscience, which proceeds from baptism, (1Peter): not only because these are complete works, and not first-fruits and earnests, but also because the work spoken of is connected with the redemption of the inheritance, with the deliverance of the creation, with which the work in the conscience hath nothing to do. The work of soul-cleansing, which regeneration is, is wholly spiritual, and not part or parcel of the work of redeeming the body and the inheritance, which is wholly natural or physical. The creation, natural or physical, was finished when the body of man was created out of the dust of the earth; the creation spiritual began when God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul. In the redemption, or regeneration, the thing is reversed. First the soul within is cleansed, whereby Christ proveth Himself to have been the Creator of the invisible Spirit,—Him who breathed it into man; and the spirit of man, thus redeemed and regenerated by its Creator, is left alone in the midst of an unredeemed and unregenerated world, to shew its separateness therefrom, and superiority thereto, by triumphing over all creation’s evil propensities, and enforcing all creation, with the body which commands it, to do homage unto Christ, its King and Lord. And to make it the more manifest that this period between the regeneration and the redemption of the body is the period for testifying the supremacy of spirit over nature, of soul over body and bodily dependencies, not only is the body, and the world its servant, left under the law of corruption and death, and yet made obedient unto the law of holiness and life, but also the person of Christ, by whose power alone this supremacy of the regenerate soul is maintained, is taken out of the world, and the communication between Him and our souls is carried on, not through sense, but through faith,—not by vision, but by the invisible Spirit. So that, ever since the departure of Christ out of the world unto the Father, it hath been a season and a time for making apparent, and putting beyond doubt, the truth, that Christ was the Father of the living soul; that He is the Redeemer of it; and that, through faith and union with Him, living souls can and will govern the corporeal world. In one word, during the absence of Christ there have been regenerate souls and an unregenerate world, and these regenerate souls have performed the will of God in despite of unregenerate bodies and an unregenerate world. This, now, is the mystery of the regeneration of the soul, which, as we have said, is not part and parcel of the body and world to be regenerate, but is the opposite thereof; and therefore I conclude, with a certainty which they only who understand doctrine can feel, that those passages, in which the gift of the Holy Ghost is set forth as an earnest of the redemption of the world, cannot have any reference whatever to the regeneration of the soul, or cleansing of the conscience, or renewal of the spirit, which we are baptized into.
These thoughts may be judged more deep than pertinent to the subject in hand. They are indeed very deep, and I devoutly praise God for having been able to express what I have long brooded in my mind: but they are likewise very pertinent, and yield a complete solution of the question in hand. For, seeing that the thing which is now proceeding, according to the economy of the Divine purpose, is the manifestation of a renewed spirit’s power to do God’s will, despite of a rebel flesh and world; and to testify the power which Christ, by means of the reasonable soul, shall yet exercise over the world, to quicken the dust of corrupted bodies, to renew the decayed face of the earth, and to cast forth of the world’s verge the recreant spirits of darkness, with their retinue of wicked men; and seeing that, while we have the completeness of the former, we have only the first fruits of the latter; we ought now to find in the renewed spirits of men a power and faculty to exhibit in the body and upon the body, in the world and upon the world, such actings of Christ as shall not only foreshew, but really be, a first fruits and earnest of that perfect and complete acting in which He is to go forth when He comes to redeem the body and to redeem the inheritance. If, now, you ask me to come to closer quarters, and tell you distinctly what these actings be, I accept the challenge most willingly, and proceed to shew you them, first, in promise from the mouth of the Lord, and, secondly, in existence in the Church.
I. This power is contained in promise in many parts of Scripture: as in Isa. 8.18, where Christ declareth of Himself, and His children by regeneration, that they are for signs and for wonders; and in the prophecy of Joel, which hath reference to that fulness of which we have received, and do enjoy, only the first fruits; and twice by the Lord in these words, “If your faith were as a grain of mustard-seed, ye would say unto this mountain. Remove, and be cast into the depths of the sea, and it would be done unto you:” and again in that strong asseveration, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father,” (John 14.12.) But it is most fully developed in the last verses of the Gospel by Mark, from which I prefer to set forth the endowment in promise. The last six verses of that chapter contain the substance of the Church’s commission, given to her in the persons of the eleven apostles, commanding them to go and preach the gospel of the kingdom to every creature under heaven, with the assurance that “whosoever believed it, and was baptized, should be saved; whosoever believed it not, should be damned.” Then addeth He these words,”And these signs shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover,”(Mark 16.17-18.) These words being spoken, it is said that “He was received up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God; and that they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord confirming the word with signs following.” Now, then, it is to these signs that I would direct your attention, as containing the particulars of that gift of power which was superadded to the work of complete regeneration sealed up to the believer in baptism. They consist of five particulars: —First, the casting out of devils. This is a first fruits of that casting out of Satan and his angels into the bottomless pit, to be reserved in chains of darkness unto the judgment of the great day, which shall be accomplished at the redemption of the body and the inheritance. And because Satan is the author and continuer of the bondage from which Christ came to redeem, whose works Christ was manifested to destroy, the Church, in order to possess and shew forth unto the world what Christ will yet do by that devil whose thrall the world is, hath given to her power in the Spirit to cast out devils from the bodies of men; and thus doth she rebuke the world of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged; and she shews that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto men, when their children are able to cast the devils out. Christ’s supremacy in the spiritual world, the completeness of His redemption, is continually declared by this power in the Church to cast out devils; and a testimony is continually kept up for the truth, against the continual lie of Satan and the world, that he is its prince, and that all its kingdoms are his. No, says the Church; Christ is the King, and in His name I cast Satan and his tribes out of the bodies of men.
The second of those particulars embodied in the gift of the Holy Ghost is, that they should “speak with new tongues” which had been prophesied of by Isaiah, (chap, 28-11,) and was given on the day of Pentecost. Now, this is the demonstration that Christ is the Lord of human spirits, as the former is the demonstration of His being Lord over evil spirits. For to use my tongue is the prerogative of my soul; no other human person but myself can use it: if, therefore, it be used in such a manner as I cannot—for example, to speak a tongue which I do not understand, and in that tongue to utter reasonable speech—then is it true that another holdeth the mastery over me. Who that other is, must be determined by the thing which is spoken; for devils, we know, did use the tongues of men to utter things which they themselves knew not, and could not know: confessing Jesus to be the Christ, and the Holy One of God. And, therefore, in order to determine and try the spirit which spoke, certain tests were given, of which these two are the chief—to wit, whether their words bore testimony of the true flesh and to the real lordship of Christ. This being ascertained, then the spirit which possessed the man, and used his tongue, is known to be the Spirit of God; which is distributed through the body by Christ, the Head of the body; who therefore is proved to be Lord of human reason, inhabiter of the souls of men, not by a figure, but in very truth, when forth from the souls of men He speaketh the glorious things of God in words which they understand not, and of which they must receive the interpretation at another time, or from another person, certainly by another act of the Spirit of Christ. The presence of Christ in the souls of His people; His power to actuate their will, and to use their tongue, and by it to express the forms of reasonable truth, while they themselves are all passive in His hands, as the trumpet in the hand of the priest, doth clearly demonstrate Him to be the Lord of the souls of men, and able to use their tongues, as hereafter He will do, in giving forth His word unto all the regions of creation. It is a first fruits of that power which shall be hereafter, inasmuch as, though it be uttered to all the nations of the earth, it is not by them obeyed; whereas in the time to come, in the eternal age, through them, even through the members of His Church, He shall speak to all regions of the world, and it shall be done. The former proveth Him to be the Lord of evil spirits, to cast them out of men; this proveth Him to be the Lord of human spirits, to fill them with the wisdom and the power of God; and these two together do leave mankind without excuse; for what doth man want but a Redeemer who is able to cast the devil out and to bring God into him again. There are many other things connected with the gift of tongues, into which we cannot enter in this place; but that which we have stated is, we believe, the substance of it considered as a sign.
Now the third particular brings us at once out of the spiritual into the material world: “They shall take up serpents.” It was said of the serpent, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman;” and between serpents and mankind there is a deadly enmity, insomuch that the poison of serpents will not only almost instantaneously destroy life, but reduce the body to corruption: and therefore in this place it is put forth as the representative of that enmity which is come between man and the lower creatures, which were made to reverence, to serve, and not to destroy him. Now to this curse of rebelliousness the creatures were made subject not willingly: it is not their nature by creation, but it is the cruel sign of their stern bondage to the enemy of man. By receiving power from the Holy Ghost, therefore, to take up serpents, it is signified that Christ hath redeemed the lower creatures also from their bondage; and restored man to that supremacy over the animals, and the animals to that innocent obedience of man, with, and for which, man and they were created. The Church, therefore, by possessing this power to take up serpents, gives a manifest sign unto the world that a time is surely to come when “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf, and the young lion, and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them: and the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox and the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den,” (Isa. 11.6-8.) The Church, by possessing this power, hath in her hand the earnest and first-fruits of that power “over the sheep and oxen and beasts, over the fowl of the air, and fish of the sea, and whatsoever passeth through the paths of the sea,” which Christ hath purchased for Himself, and possesseth in full right as Lord of all; which, however, it suiteth not the economy of the Father’s times that He should take upon Him at present, but of which He giveth to the Church an earnest, and by her giveth to the world a sign, that He will in the fulness of time take unto Himself.
But beside the animal creation, which was originally subject unto man, and is now subject unto him again in the person of Christ Jesus, there is the inanimate or elemental creation also, which hath escaped from its subserviency, and become enslaved unto evil. The poisons which the earth produceth, the noxious vapours exhaled from the waters, and the deadly infections which the air scattereth abroad, the storms and tempests which devastate the face of the world, these, and all other violences, are the signs of that bondage into which sin hath brought all things, and out of which Christ by His righteousness hath redeemed all things. And when the fulness of the time is come for Him to appear again. He shall come as the Liberator of all nature from her thraldom. If, now, Christ have in hand power to redeem all nature out of the bonds of evil, and the Church have in the Holy Ghost a first-fruits thereof, she must possess the power of miracles, to arrest the evil course of things, and to turn them into that righteous course which they shall observe forever power she ought to possess over the laws of the world, such as was possessed by our Lord when He stilled the raging winds and calmed the tempestuous deep. And forasmuch as poisons are the most pregnant evidences of the evil condition of nature, Christ, by giving to him that believeth power over the same to suspend their evil effects, doth thereby give unto His Church the best first-fruits of that power which He now possesseth, and she shall hereafter possess,—the power to press out from every plant, and from every element of nature, the various principles of death and destructiveness. For which reason it is, that in the Scriptures all nature is represented as rejoicing in the prospect of the Lord’s coming; as for example: “Let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad; let the sea roar, and the fulness thereof; let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the wood rejoice before the Lord: for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth,” (Ps. 96.)
By the last two particulars are established the supremacy of man’s body over all nature, and the ministry of all nature to its health and well-being, as parts of the redemption which Christ hath wrought out for those that believe; and by the two former, the supremacy of man’s soul over the devils, and its subjection to God through the Holy Spirit, are likewise shewn to be of that redemption purchased by Christ; but there still remaineth one part of creation—to wit, man’s body—over which, by these signs, the redemption of Christ should be shewn to extend; and this we have as the last particular ” They shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” Sickness is sin apparent in the body, the presentiment of death, the forerunner of corruption. Disease of every kind is mortality begun. Now, as Christ came to destroy death, and will yet redeem the body from the bondage of corruption, if the Church is to have a first-fruits or earnest of this power, it must be by receiving power over diseases, which are the first-fruits and earnest of death; and this being given to her, completes the circle of her power. For in creation there is no more than these five parts: the pure spirit, the embodied soul of man, the body of man, the animal creation, and the inanimate world: of all which sin hath taken possession, and over all which Christ hath obtained superiority, to reconstitute them in that way which shall for ever demonstrate the being and attributes of God. This superiority, this ownership, He now inheriteth in sole right and possession; but, evermore willing to shew forth His dutifulness to His Father, not less on heaven’s throne than in the garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, He doth wait upon the Father’s will to determine the time when the day of complete redemption shall at length arrive; and the Father, in order to gratify the Son, and make known His surpassing goodness and the riches of His glory, doth beget unto Him, out of sinful flesh, a body, the Church, unto whom He may communicate His fulness, and by whom He may express it unto all creation; ruling and governing, by these His kings and priests, those innumerable worlds which He hath purchased with His blood, (for the heavenly things, as well as the earthly things, were purified by His blood:) and meanwhile, until the day of the refreshing, until the restitution of all things cometh. He doth, by means of this Church, which the Father hath given to Him for a body, and which He hath informed with His own Spirit, communicate a first-fruits and earnest of that power which He is hereafter by their means to express in its fulness, and to hold for ever. And this He doth to the end that devils, and devil-possessed men, may know the certainty of that doom which abideth them, and that the latter may cast in their lot with the righteous and be saved; while to the bodies of men, and to all inferior creation. He doth make sure that redemption from the grave and from the curse which they shall surely obtain. This first-fruits of power, to cast the devils into hell, to raise the bodies of the dead, and to hold the superiority of all inferior creation, being possessed by the believing Church, doth continually demonstrate and signify unto the world who, and of what kind, their Redeemer is who, and of what kind, is that man, Jesus of Nazareth, whom God hath constituted both Christ and Lord. This first-fruits and earnest of the inheritance of power and prerogative, which under Him we are yet to hold, is likewise the Church’s argument to men of their certain destruction, if they come not forth from the world; of their superlative dignity and honour, if they do come forth from it into the bosom of the Church. It is a sign of that which we preach Christ to be,—Lord of all. It is a sign of that which we preach Him as about to do, —to cast out devils, to raise the dead, and to liberate the creature. It is a sign of what we, the Church, are, in real uninterrupted union with Him, holding a real power under Him,—the arm of His strength, the temple of His presence, the tongue of His Spirit, the manifoldness of His wisdom, the kings and the priests of Christ for God.
This, now, is an exhibition of the length and breadth of that gift of the Holy Ghost which the Church hath, in earnest of that fulness of Him that filleth all in all; which is her prerogative; for which in the fulness of time she waits; holding it now in faith, then to have it in possession. Our evidence-writers have never comprehended the depths of this subject: their books are mere rag-rolls, fragments, and tatters of the substantial doctrine: no Christian writings, but metaphysical or antiquarian researches. These miracles they make to stand merely in their power: and so, say they, they demonstrate God to be with the worker of them: and if so, then are they signs that He is sent by God, and ought with prostration of mind to be listened to. Now, be this granted, and what to do hath it with Christ? It were an argument for an heathen as good as for a Christian. It is merely an argument that the God of nature is with this man; there is no recognition of Christ as the doer of the work; there is no recognition of the work itself being part and parcel of Christ’s redemption. Indeed, the substance or nature of the work is never once considered by these evidence-writers. But, besides the leanness and emptiness of their speculation, I deny both the premises and the conclusion. First, the premises, that a mere miracle demonstrates God to be the worker. Miracles have been done by the power of Satan and Beelzebub; and more are promised to be done; and no man can tell what power beyond man’s science the spirits of darkness possess. It is not the powerfulness, but the moral character of the miracle, that proves it to be Divine. Is it in the way of evil or of good? in the way of redemption or of bondage? is it in furtherance or hindrance of Satan’s kingdom? The miracle appeals to the moral part of man; to the conscience, and not to his power. Next, I deny their conclusion. Men may do miracles in the name of Christ, and yet be wicked men: as our Lord himself declares, that many shall say in that day, Have we not in Thy name cast out devils, and done many wonderful works? of whom He shall profess that He never knew them. A man may possess the powers of the world to come, and yet fall away into evil courses, (Heb. 6.) Wherefore I say, that the circumstance of a man’s doing miracles, or having done miracles, doth not seal up every word he speaketh as truth, even though these miracles be done in the name of Christ, and by the power of God. The word he speaks appealeth to the conscience of man; and God did never intend that man in hearing his word should be less than man, a being responsible, and conscious of moral truth. But my present occupation is not to reprove the modern evidence-writers; whom I would not have noticed in this place, had it not been to shew the true origin of that most erroneous opinion of these latter times, and of this Protestant section of the Church, that these gifts of the Holy Ghost were intended only for a season, until the canon of Scripture was completed, and the Book had found a place and an authority amongst men. The whole of this idea is a tissue of error and contradiction, which it is not my present business to expose. Yet from this
account, meagre and false as it is, of the “signs and wonders, and diverse miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost,” hath sprung the diabolical hatred with which the Christian scavans —for I cannot call them divines—are filled upon the very mention of the existence of these gifts in the Church. They are like men demented, given over, and toppling to their downfall. The way in which the idea has been scouted and hooted at, by what are called divines, (but if they would retain the name much longer, they must make it good by other means than scandalous abuse and mocking raillery,) is to me the fearfullest sign of the Protestant Church, and especially of the Evangelical sect in the bosom of it. But, to return from this digression.
II. Having set out the largeness and the particularity of the gift or power which the Church hath given to her, in earnest of her full inheritance, and that she may serve for a witness of that which she preacheth concerning the present lordship and future action of Christ; we now come to take a view of the same thing, not as it lies in promise, but as it is in real existence and was in active exertion in the Church. And to the intent that we may here, as always, have under our feet the firm continent of the word of God, and not sail widely in the waste of fanciful speculations or scholastic inventions, we betake ourselves to the 12th chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, to see there the form and function of the Christian Church, in that state in which Jesus did constitute it, and in which He requireth us to hold it fast till He come. The apostle, speaking of the state of the church at Corinth, and taking in hand to order it aright, and so to leave upon the record of Scripture the scheme of a rightly constituted church; and having already discoursed of the true foundation of Christ and Him crucified, and of holy discipline, and of separateness from idolatry and fornication, and of the right administration of the Lord’s Supper; doth in this chapter take up the subject of spiritual gifts, or gifts of the Spirit, in contradistinction from charity, which is the more excellent way, and the bond of perfectness, that spirit of complete holiness into which we are baptized. And concerning these he first asserteth three things in general, to point out the several parts which the several persons in the Godhead had therein. And, first, he asserteth that the diversities of gifts which were dispersed throughout the members of the Church, like the diversity of members in the body, did not prove that there were many spirits, but that there was one Spirit, the one life of the whole, and dividing unto everyone according as He will; that no one member possessed the whole power of the Spirit, but only a part thereof, and craved as much the help and ministry of every other part as they in their turn did crave of it; Christ alone having the seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God. And therefore it is observed by the apostle, secondly, that there are diversities of ministries, but the same Lord; that is to say, in other words, various persons into whose hands the administration of these gifts was committed, and who were responsible for the use of them in behalf of the whole body and of the world without; according as it is written in the 12th chapter of the Romans: “Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; or ministry, let us wait on our ministering; or he that teacheth, on teaching; or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.” The third observation in general is, that as the substance of all the gifts is the one Spirit, and the administrator of them all the one Lord; so the in-worker of the gifts in all the persons is the one and the same God, whose Godhead the Son is filled with in His human nature to serve out to men, while the Holy-Ghost carrieth on and supplieth the service. So that verily these gifts, ministries, and operations are God working by means of men what His good pleasure is even as the apostle declareth in the First Epistle to the Corinthians, (chap. 14.24-25:) “But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.” These three observations the apostle makes, to prevent the diversity of the gifts and the ministries and the operations from leading to schism, instead of preserving unity, as their intention is his object being the same as is expressed more fully in the 4th chapter of the Ephesians, from the 3d to the 17th verse, where the unity standeth in these particulars, “one body, one Spirit, one hope of your calling, one hope, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all,”—a sevenfold and perfect unity. These three observations are of great price, as teaching us that the Church, under Christ its head, and with the Spirit for its inspiration, is the one great instrument of God in which and by which to carry on all His operations; a temple for the Eternal God to dwell in; a sufficient body for expressing all His mind, and doing all His will. This is a very great, and almost an inexpressible idea; but it is the only adequate idea of the Church, considered, not in relation to Christ, but considered in relation to the incomprehensible God. In relation to Christ, it is as the body to the Head; but in relation to God, it is as the whole body under its Head to the Will. And herein lies the necessity that the Head of this body should Himself be adequate to the comprehension of God, filling His bosom otherwise there were no understanding how a finite thing could keep up communication and sympathy, proportion and measure, with what is infinite. The whole mystery of redemption is God’s obtaining for Himself such a complete organ of expression and of action, in the finiteness of which the attributes of His own infinite being might be truly and fully expressed. To procure for Godhead such a fit organ, the Son and the Holy Ghost do, without departing or separating from the Godhead, which is impossible, take connexion with the creature, and from a portion thereof do constitute that most seemly and adequate Shechinah of the Eternal God. This portion of the creation is the election; and the Shechinah, or glorious habitation thus constructed, is the Church; and the Head of it, or holder of it up, is Christ; and the Life of it, or the holder of it together, is the Holy Ghost. And the materials thus headed up and holden together for a dwelling-place, and, so to speak, embodiment of God, are all of the fallen creation; of the creation after it hath proved that in itself is neither strength nor aptitude; of the creation dissolved and dead; to prove that it needed both a Super-creation Head and Life, Holder-up and Holder-together. Ah me! what a contemplation it is! But we must again betake ourselves to the details.
This being the true idea of the Church, Godward considered, it must needs be that from the beginning of its being it should put forth the germ of its own perfection; like all the inferior works of God, that this. His chief work, should reveal its constant law, and begin to be in growth. Now, the Church began to be from the time that Christ was glorified and became the quickening Spirit. As the human race began to be from the time Adam was endowed with the power of generation and received command to multiply; so the Church began to be from the time that the Second Adam was perfected, and, by receiving from the Father the Holy Ghost, had power by regeneration to beget sons of God—that is, from the day of Pentecost—and therefore from this time it should begin to shew forth the information and inworking of God within it. How it did so, let us now shew out, by pursuing this 12th chapter of the First Epistle to the Corinthians; and so discover what that is which we are commanded to hold fast till He come.
The gifts which the apostle now proceeds to enumerate as possessed by the Church, are in general called ” the manifestation of the Spirit,”—that is, the way which the Spirit takes to manifest or shew Himself; to make Himself evident to others, to any one who may chance to enter the assembly, and hear and see the things which are said and done. This answers to our first idea, that the Church is to Christ, while He acteth in the Spirit, what the body is to the soul—an instrument by which it reveals both its presence and its manifold dispositions and energies: “That by the Church may be made known to the powers in the heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God.” And these manifestations of the Spirit, saith he, “are given to every one to profit withal,” or for profitable use; not to be hid in a napkin, or buried in the earth, but to be turned to account and used for the common behoof: as it is written by Peter concerning the same subject—”As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things maybe glorified, through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen,” (1Pet. 4. 10-11.) Now to execute and fulfil this purpose the constant presence of charity is necessary; otherwise the precious talent rusts and corrodes its own possessor. In order that these gifts may be graces, the work of regeneration is absolutely necessary—holiness and charity—to bring us into the same devotedness to God and man in which Christ was, and to keep us ever so. For want of this it is that many possessing these gifts fall into schism, and some into total apostasy. They are not the best thing, but they are something, and that no mean thing, if to exhibit God and Christ and the Spirit to the world, and to edify the Church, be no mean thing.
Then comes the enumeration of these gifts, waited upon by divers ministers; whereof the first two stand in word; the one the “word of wisdom,” the other the “word of knowledge;” whereof the former refers to mysteries of doctrine which needed exposition; the latter to events, whether past, present, or to come. I gather from the 2d verse of the 13th chapter, “Though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge,” that the word of wisdom hath regard to mysteries; and from the 8th verse, that the word of knowledge hath respect to events of this imperfect state and temporary dispensation, which shall be done away. The two occur in combination in Rom. 11.33, where the apostle, carry- ing his thoughts to the consummation of God’s purpose, bursts out into ecstasy over the wisdom of the method and the knowledge of the end—”Oh the depths both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” The word of knowledge is, when applied to the past, learning; when applied to the present, knowledge; when applied to the future, foreknowledge: and it lays out the particulars of which wisdom discovers the divine unity, the wonderful arrangement, the relations of part to part, and their application to the well-being of the soul, and to the moral duties of life. The one tells the tale, the other adds the moral. The Church of Scotland hath made both these standing ordinances to this day; she hath held these fast; requiring that in every flock there be one at least with the word of wisdom, endowed of the Spirit, whose name is the bishop, or pastor, or minister, and his office to apply the truth wisely to the conscience of the people and the exigencies of life; another with the word of knowledge, whose name is the doctor, or teacher, and his business to lay out the history and grounds of truth and error, and to handle them doctrinally, but not to apply them. Of these the latter is considered as the lower degree. I think this distinction is substantially correct, and that the division of office and of gift is a fine relic of the primitive churches: would that the rest had been as carefully preserved! I have often admired the steadiness with which the Scottish people have ever insisted that these gifts of the preacher and the teacher should stand in “word,” as they are given in the passage before us, and not in written and studied compositions; insisting that it is of the essence of the minister’s office that he should receive both the matter and the word from the Holy Ghost. Therefore the apostle says, that he taught wisdom not “in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” For, according to the text, there is in the Church a gift “to speak wisdom,” and another gift “to speak knowledge;” and of the nine gifts, only these two have the character of “word” and we may therefore well believe that this is of their essence that: “the word” is a part of the gift, and that those who hold for a verbal inspiration of the matter of Scripture are correct. These two gifts are, however, not the only ones which stood in utterance by the mouth, which belongeth also to “prophecy.” But there is this difference, as I judge; that the prophet had not the word given to him, but only the matter, with the high gift of embodying it in the form known by the name prophecy, which we shall hereafter consider; whereas the other two had the matter brought to them in the form of word, and were only the mouth to give it utterance. By these Christ shewed forth His wisdom to unlock all mysteries, and His knowledge of all events and His capacity of embodying them by the word of others, from whom He was separated personally by being altogether out of the world: shewing to us the power of the Spirit to bring THE WORD from the Father, and utter it in the world by means of men; and teaching how, in the age to come. He will use men for the conveyancers of His word—or, rather, the Spirit for the conveyancer, and men for the utterers of it, in whatever region of the world their appointed station may be. No doubt it was this gift which furnished and fitted the evangelists and the apostles for their work of inditing the Scriptures; the former having the word of knowledge, to recall and narrate events; the latter the word of wisdom, to decide questions which had arisen in the Church, and give full counsels for all cases that should arise.
Next to these is faith: “To another faith, by the same Spirit.” This is not saving faith, or the “one faith,” without which a man cannot be saved; which is not a particular gift conferred upon one and not upon another member of the body, but the common possession of them all; and is of that complete, and not partial, gift into which we are baptized, and by which we eat the flesh and drink the blood of the Lord in the Eucharist. Of what kind this faith is we have described to us in the 13th chapter, by direct contrast with that charity which is not partial, but common ; which is not accidental, but essential to a Christian. When I say accidental, I would not have it to be understood as if I regarded the possession of these spiritual gifts as matter of indifference to the Church whether she have them or not; for I believe them to be her talents to trade upon, her setting-up and outfit in the present world, for probation of her faithfulness and adjudication of her future reward. The parable of the talents has these gifts, as I judge, in view. It is not natural gifts, but spiritual gifts of the kingdom, which are there treated of. When therefore it so happens, as at this time amongst us Protestants, that the Church not only doth not desire to possess, but doth utterly abjure their being responsible for these gifts, she doth worse than the man with the one talent, and shall receive her reward, if she repent not, and give not heed to the witness which is now raised in her ears concerning her endowments. The faith here spoken of, and which I call accidental and peculiar, not spiritual and catholic, because one Christian may have it and another may not have it, is the same spoken of in chap. 8.2—”And though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains.” And this again carries us, as by a direct quotation, to our Lord’s declaration to His disciples, twice repeated—once upon the occasion of His healing the devil-possessed child, (Matt. 17.20,) the other of His cursing the barren fig-tree, (Matt. 21.21)—”If ye have faith like a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain. Remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” This is what divines call the faith of miracles, as distinguished from saving faith. And yet it is not the gift of miracles, which may be divided from it, and is divided from it in the text, and given to another. What then is it? I think it is that which hath the same relation to the actions of the Spirit that word hath to His thoughts; it is the strong confidence in Christ’s power, in the presence of which power it is done, and without which it cannot be done. But, while this gift of faith is the substratum upon which the various actings of power that follow do rest, it hath doubtless something in itself distinctive enough to form a gift, without any addition of healing, or miracles, or tongues; which appears to be, the power of relying upon the word which hath been spoken out of the gift of wisdom and of knowledge. To utter a word is not to believe: when a man hath been the tongue of the Spirit, he hath done his part; it is the part of another to fasten hold upon it, and to keep it laid up in his faith, and to be established upon it, and to be the stay of the Church in adversities. As the man with the word of wisdom rises up in perplexities, and gives forth the resolution of God; so the man with faith rises up in adversities, and recalls the memory and reawakens the faith of things uttered by God. These men of faith are the forlorn hope of the army, who never lose heart, but believe all things possible to God. Such men I know, who cannot utter a syllable without a stammering lip, but have tenfold the faith of others, who can speak like the oracles of God; This gift of faith I look upon as being in the Church what indomitable resolution and never-failing confidence is in the natural character of some men; it sticks at nothing which God hath said, but believes its very jots and tittles: it fears nothing which God in His providence sends, but ever says to the children of Israel, Go forward. By having such an organ of the Spirit in the body, Christ shews that His Church hath capacity of believing all that He can say, and therefore is a fit instrument for executing all that He can desire. The order of God’s providence is, first, word ; then, faith in Him who hears it: then, execution by the means of them who have believed. And while it stands lingering in the stage of faith, the Lord bringeth the most faith-trying occurrences, so that it should seem to some utterly impossible to accomplish the thing; and He ever saith, ” Except ye believe, ye cannot be established:” faith bears the fiery proof, and in due time receives the reward of accomplishment. To this intrepidity of faith, God calleth some with a special calling.
The next is “the gifts of healing, by the same Spirit.” Of this we have already spoken, when viewing this subject under the aspect of promise. It is the fifth of the signs of the Redeemer and the complete redemption: ” Ye shall lay your hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” And certain persons in the Church were intrusted with the dispensation thereof unto the whole body, and unto those that were without: for these gifts were not to be hoarded up within the Church, but to be traded with; they were for the confirmation of that word to every creature under heaven, to whom the word was preached, not by an appeal to a miracle—which is, in respect of truth, no more discernment than the appeal to arms is in respect of justice—but by a demonstration in the act of that thing which they preached in word. The word preached is, that Christ hath redeemed men from the power of death; and in sign thereof we do in His name heal all manner of diseases, and upon occasion raise the dead, (as is recorded both of Peter and Paul:) and the conclusion is, that the name of Christ is indeed able to effect those things preached. The sign is part and parcel of the thing preached, and by being so confirms it. It is not an appeal to blind power, but it is an appeal to Jesus to confirm the truth preached, by giving a sign of His possessing this power which we assign to Him, and a first-fruits of that action which we preach Him about to perform. It is not by the transmission of this through eighteen centuries of tradition, that the unlearned world are to be convinced—a process by which, I will venture to say, that none but a few antiquaries were ever convinced but it is by the abiding of them in, and the putting of them forth by, the Church, wherever and so long as she is established, until Christ come, that the world is to be taught that Jesus of Nazareth is the world’s gracious Healer, and wise Teacher, and merciful Redeemer, and righteous Governor. It is not by putting a book into every man’s hand, of the genuineness and authenticity of which it takes no mean store of learning to be convinced, but it is by a continuous Church holding forth the word of the gospel of life to the nations, and attesting the truth of what they declare concerning Jesus, by calling His name over all distressed nature, and giving it redemption and joy. This is what the Church was intended to be, God’s witnesses of Christ to every nation and every generation, until He should send Him to accomplish all which had been preached for a witness. But now, lo! the Bible Society is our church, and the Bible is our God! These gifts of healing bespeak Christ’s mercy unto, and His power over, all flesh. How oft is it said in the Gospels, “And he healed them all!” And Peter and Paul had a still more indiscriminate ministry for to them were brought handkerchiefs from the sick, that they might touch them; and the infirm were laid by the way, that the shadow of the apostle might overshadow some of them. That dispensation of a redeeming providence which Judea had for three years and a half in the person of the Lord, the whole world was intended to have in the Church, and would have had, but for our unfaithfulness to our Master, our self-sufficiency in ourselves, and our unmercifulness to the world. Forgetting for what end we were elected, even to shew forth the power of Him who hath called us, we grew vain of our election, and rioted in the pride of it, and became hard-hearted; and did such things and held such opinions, under the covert of that name election, as many are now doing who deny the universal love of God, and the real work of Christ to condemn sin in the flesh. We are acting over again the shameful history of the children of Israel, and are preparing for a more terrible tragedy than theirs.
Next comes “the working of miracles.” The passage in Hebrews, (chap. 2.4,) which gives a brief enumeration of these works, divides them thus: ” Signs, and wonders, and divers miracles, and gifts (distributions) of the Holy Ghost.” Of these four, the third is that now under consideration. The first, “signs,” we have treated of in the foregoing exposition of the last verses of Mark, ” These signs shall follow them that believe.” A sign is properly a token in which the thing signified can be recognised; and in those four particulars, we shewed, is to be recognised the whole salvation of soul, body, and inheritance, which we preach. The “wonders” are almost constantly coupled with the signs, and in one place distinguished from them: Acts 2.19, “And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath.” And sometimes “miracles,” or powers, are added to both; as in recounting the proof of Christ’s mission in the same chapter, and Paul’s justifying his own mission, (2 Cor. 12.12.) It is hard to distinguish these things, and I know not whether it can be done. Our translators have not done it, and perhaps they are right. If, however, I were to venture a distinction, it would be, that the wonder is something extraordinary exhibited to the sight—as the turning of the sun into darkness, and the moon into blood; the rending of the veil of the temple, and of the rocks, and the bringing on of darkness—and the miracle, or power, is the doing of something mighty beyond all comparison; as the calming of the storm, or the laying of the deep, or the multiplying of loaves, or the changing of water into wine: although both of these are called signs in the original, as is also the healing of the lame man by Peter and John; but throughout all that discourse in the 11th chapter of Matthew, for reproof of the cities where His mighty works had been chiefly done, the word used is “powers, or miracles.” Wonders I take to be remarkable occurrences which yet contradict no law of nature, as Elisha’s bringing fire from heaven; but miracles are a strong resistance, suspension, and turning back of nature’s fixed powers. Yet all of these, both the wonders and miracles, being interpreted aright, are signs of that kingdom of heaven which we preach as about to be revealed under the government of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Besides these three, there is a fourth classification in this passage of the Hebrews, which is entitled “gifts (or distributions) of the Holy Ghost.” And the like addition do we find the apostle Paul making, when enumerating the works of God in and by him. The passage is in Rom. 15.19, and somewhat obscured in our translation: literally it is, “In power of signs and wonders, in power of the Spirit of God;” another form of power. Accordingly we find that those same apostles who were required to wait for the day of Pentecost, in order to receive “power from on high,” had at that time, and during their ministry, possessed power to heal the sick, to cast out devils, and to trample upon all the power of the enemy: ” Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils.” This they possessed, and yet did they not possess that power or gift of the Holy Ghost which they received on Pentecost. They then did such works as He did, but they were after Pentecost to do greater works than these, through the gift of the Holy Ghost, which He was to receive by going to the Father, and to shed down upon them. To this new power, the gift of the Holy Ghost, the apostle’s fourth distribution in the 2nd of the Hebrews, and second in the 15th of the Romans, hath reference. Our inquiry at present, however, is into the gift of miracles, which was a manifestation of the Spirit given to a certain order in the Church. This order was instituted in the body on purpose to set forth Christ’s mighty power to withstand, to turn again, and to direct for the ends of grace and goodness, those potent springs of nature, those powers of the heavens and the earth, which Satan hath succeeded in distorting from their true and right intention to an evil use: where famine is, to make plenty; where blindness is, to give sight; and lameness strength, and death life: that men might know that cause and effect is only an appointment or permission of God while it pleases Him; and that the laws of the material world are not necessary, but under the control and in the hands of our merciful Redeemer. If the Church had been still possessed of this memorial and foreshewing of that great revolution in nature which is to be effected at the coming of the Lord, there would not have been this universal feeling and outcry, “All things have continued as they were since the beginning:” this bondage of the will of man to the fatality of cause and effect, and all those speculations, which have so strengthened scepticism, concerning the possibility or impossibility of attesting a miracle, would have been prevented; and the present entire unbelief of a miracle being ever again, would, as ashamed, hide its face, instead of exposing itself in all public places. This power of miracles must either be speedily revived in the Church, or there will be a universal dominion of the mechanical philosophy; and faith will be fairly expelled, to give place to the law of cause and effect acting and ruling in the world of mind, as it doth in the world of sense. What now is preaching become, but the skill of a man to apply causes which may produce a certain known effect upon a congregation?—so much of argument, so much of eloquence, so much of pathos, so much of doctrine, so much of morality; and all to bring the audience into a certain frame of mind, and so dismiss them well wrought upon by the preacher and well pleased with themselves. The effectual check to all this would be, to dispute with the enemy in his fortress, to try conclusions with the law of cause and effect in astronomy, natural philosophy, chemistry, or any branch of natural science, where it holds itself supreme: to stop the sun, like Joshua; to make him travel back, like Isaiah to walk upon the water, like our Lord; or to handle the viper, like the apostle Paul. The very existence of a will the cause of itself, is begun not only to be doubted, but to be denied. It also is looked upon as a substance, under the common bondage of cause and effect; and God himself is looked upon merely as a Great First Cause. I know nothing able to dethrone this monster from the throne of God, which it hath usurped, but the reawakening of the Church to her long-forgotten privilege of working miracles. The miracle-workers in the Church are Christ’s hand, to shew the strength that is in Him: the healers of diseases are His almoners, to shew what pity and compassion are in Him: the faith-administrators are His lion-heart, to shew how mighty and fearless He is: and the utterers of wisdom and knowledge are His mind, to shew how rich and capacious it is. They do all contain, and exhibit and minister to the world, some portion of that fulness which is in Him, and which He alone is capable of holding in one subsistence; which, when it enters into others, must prove the occupation and the honour and the ornament of many persons.
We now pass into another region, distinguished both from the more excellent way of charity and from spiritual gifts, in these words of the 14th chapter, “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.” And throughout the whole of that chapter he dwells upon this gift of prophecy, which is now before us, with a special delight, as the edification of the Church: “But he that prophesieth, speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort,” (ver. 3;) and nothing seems he to have had so much at heart as that all should prophesy: “I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied;” and again, “But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: and thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth,” (ver. 24, 25.) What is this gift, of which the apostle maketh such high account ? It is evidently very different from what is commonly understood by prophesying, as the mere foretelling of future events, because it is “unto men for edification and exhortation and comfort.” But if that vulgar idea of prognostication be meant to represent the true character of a prophet of the Old Testament, nothing is so insufficient. Is the office of Moses or Elias, of Isaiah or Jeremiah, described by saying that they foretold future events? I trow not. Their office standeth in this, that they were God’s mouth to men, fitted and furnished for uttering His own mind in adequate expressions, and for standing in the breach between the Church and the world, between the world and its destruction. Ah me: what a mischief hath been done by these wild schismatics, who, in their sectarian zeal to repress the free inquiries of the Church into the prophets, have dared to propagate it among their weak adherents, that these books of the prophets are only for the curious speculators into the future! Night unto you, O ye misleaders of the people! If ye return not at the watchman’s voice, the night and thick darkness abide you: any little twilight you now grope in, will soon pass into the deepest, darkest midnight. O my misguided brethren! I tell you, the prophets are the utterers of the word of God for the weal of man. None of their writings is of any private interpretation, to single men, or generations of men, or particular ages; but to the Church catholic and universal; for they spake not after the will of men, but as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. They are very profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness. They are most profitable for holiness, both personal, ecclesiastical, and national. They reveal God in all His fulness and variety of being. They speak in human ears the strains of heaven. Oh! how very sublime, how very pathetic, how very moral, how very divine they are! It is the richest tissue of discourse that was ever woven. The poet, the orator, the merchant, the statesman, the divine, every form of spiritual workman, will find the instruments, and the measures, and the rules, and the chief performances of his art, therein. How many-sided are the prophets! How they stretch athwart the middle space between heaven and earth, lying all abroad in the most varied beauty! I am grieved, sore pained at my heart, that the affections of men should have departed away from such a feast of fat things. I cannot understand it. It did not use to be so. In my boyish days, when the firesides of the Scottish peasantry were my favourite haunts, and converse with the gray-headed elders of the Church my delight, their prayers were almost exclusively drawn from the psalms and the prophets. Have I not heard them use those blessed passages with a savour and unction which indicated both intelligence and full feeling! Is the mind of man departed into the sear and yellow leaf? Is there to be no second spring? Are we ever to feed on the garbage of the magazines and the religious newspapers? God forbid! That rich and copious vein of rendering God’s messages in forms of thought and language worthy of Him, and powerful over the hearts and souls of men, which prophecy is in the hands of the Old Testament prophets, the apostle wisheth all the Church to study to possess; and being attained, he counts it of an unspeakable price in the ecclesiastical economy; insomuch, he saith, that if they were all thus to speak as from the heart of God to the heart of man, and there come into the assembly one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he says he cannot fail to be convinced and judged of them all. What a heart-searching, truth-telling thing must this prophecy, then, have been? Such a thing must prophesying have been—clear, true, warm, and tender; fresh from the heart; redolent with the affections of God to sinful men piercing and penetrating, yet not appalling, but cleansing and comforting, to the conscience. And this is what our preaching is intended to stand for? Wretched substitute! It seems to me that this gift of prophesying, which the Church are by the apostle called upon to covet above all other gifts of the Spirit, is the same gift which was ministered by the Old Testament prophets,—the faculty of shewing to all men their true estate in the sight of God, and their nearness to His judgments, and the way of escape; the faculty of doing for persons what they did for kingdoms and cities; foretelling being a part, but only a part of it; yet that to give warning of which the spirit of the prophet is stirred up to put forth all the powers and energies of the persuasive Spirit of God, that the evil may be avoided and the good attained. Such prophecies had gone before upon Timothy, and by them he is exhorted by the apostle to war a good warfare; and the gift is said to be given unto him by prophecy, as well as by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery, (1Tim. 1.18, 4.14.) Joining this with the declaration quoted above, that prophecy was fitted to convince and judge any stranger who by accident might come in, and to lay open the secrets of his heart, so that he should be forced to fall down and worship, as perceiving that God’s eye was in them, and that things were known to them which no one but God and his own conscience could know what can I say of this gift of the Spirit less than that it was God telling, by His chosen servant, His own knowledge of the secrets of a man’s heart, that he might confess his sin and find forgiveness of it? One trembles to think that such a power should be given to men of looking into men but if this power be with God, and He have given it to Christ, who possesseth those seven eyes which are the seven spirits of God sent forth into all the earth; and if the Church be Christ’s functionary, through which to express a manifestation of every attribute which He possesseth; then is it to be expected that here should also be found in the Church an order of men to use Christ’s eyes with Christ’s heart, and speak forth to the discovered and detected sinner such strains as these: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!” (Matt. 22.37;) “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jer. 9.1) ; “As I live, saith the Lord, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that he should turn and live: Turn ye, turn ye; why will ye die, O house of Israel!” This, I think, is the true idea of the gift of prophecy,—that it was Christ speaking forth his love and His earnestness and His knowledge, to deliver each man from the roots of bitterness that are within him, and to warn him of the certain consequences which will ensue upon the evil course he is now following. The word of wisdom hath reference to truth, and the word of knowledge to faith, but prophecy hath reference to persons. It is for building up and comforting the Church, for converting sinners from the error of their ways, and warning the world of the evil to come. And that such a power is in the Spirit is as sure as that it is in Christ; and that He hath promised it to His Church is not only proved from its place in this enumeration, but it is also clear from the express promise that the Spirit will shew us things to come; from the example of the prophecies which went before on Timothy, and of the prophet who bound himself with Paul’s girdle, and prophesied that the like would they do at Jerusalem to him who owned it. Our Lord shewed many examples of the like personal prophesyings, over Peter, and Judas, and the two sons of Zebedee; and I have no doubt the primitive Church was all-rife with this gift of foreshewing to persons the future destinies which hung over them, and grounding thereon the same variety of all-inclusive discourse which the old prophets used towards cities and nations.
“To another, discerning of spirits.” What this gift, or talent, committed to the keeping of the Church, is, we learn from the First Epistle of John, where he directeth the Church how to put it to use: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world,” (1John 4.1.) From this we learn that the spirits which were to be tried or proved spake by the mouths of false prophets, and prompted then to utter things untrue and unholy. An example of this kind we have in the 22nd chapter of the First Book of Kings, where, all the prophets of Ahab having prophesied that he should go up to Ramoth-gilead, Micaiah, the prophet of the Lord, explaineth the manner in which they had been deceived and had deceived him, in a passage which openeth much insight into the spiritual world; teaching how, God useth the ministry of evil spirits in order to pervert from the way of truth those who have loved darkness rather than light; “sending them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie;” and how these spirits take possession of wicked prophets who have not served the Spirit of Truth faithfully, and possess them with a word of falsehood; and how many of these prophets of lies may at once be under the influence of one of those unclean spirits. When the Lord, in the 7th and 24th chapters of Matthew, and Peter, in the 2nd chapter of his Second Epistle, warn the Church of false prophets that should arise, they do not mean merely erroneous and deceiving men, but men possessed with a lying spirit. Indeed, I believe that in all cases the word prophet, in the Scriptures, signifies a man speaking in the power of another spirit than his own. A true prophet speaketh in the power of the Holy Spirit, and a lying prophet speaketh in the power of an unclean spirit. That this is the true meaning of the name prophet in the New Testament, as in the Old, is further manifest from the language of the apostle: “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” (1Cor. 14.32) Now, in the passage of John’s First Epistle, under consideration, the Church is required to try those spirits with which the prophets spake, whether they were of God or not and there must, therefore, have been a gift given to the Church for this end, and persons to whom it was given to exercise it. The prophets tried men, but these men tried the prophets. The word “discernment” derives some illustration from the 14th chapter, where it is written, in the 29th verse, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others discern: and if to another sitting by there be a revelation, let the first be silent: for ye can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all be comforted; and the spirits of the prophets are in subjection to the prophets; for not of tumult is he the God, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.” This passage shews us that the discerning of spirits was a faculty widely diffused in the Church, and required to be in continual exercise; and that the prophets, in the things which they uttered, were carefully and affectionately watched by the Church, and guarded from falling under the suggestions of the wicked spirits: and if, while one of them was speaking, there should have been any revelation to this effect, he was commanded to stop till he heard it, lest by any means he might mislead the brethren into error. It is very beautiful to observe, how no gift had a completeness in itself, but wanted the neighbourhood and help of another. The prophet needed the guardianship of the discerner of spirits, and the discerner of spirits the instruction of the prophet: the one brought the precious metal from the heavenly treasury, the other assayed it, lest it should have contracted any defilement or intermixture in the transmission. The apostle John further giveth, in the same passage, as a test of spirits, whether they confessed that “Jesus Christ is come in flesh” or not and he repeats the same in his second epistle: Paul also, in the very chapter we are examining, gives us another test, whether they would say that “Jesus is the Lord.” These two doctrines, of His flesh and of His lordship, are the two keys of prophecy, and the two tests of Divine truth, which no evil spirit will bear. It is very ominous, that these are the two very points for which we are now persecuted by many, who deny Christ to have had flesh with the law of flesh; and deny that His lordship is of this earth—alleging that, when Satan shall have served himself of it, it is to be destroyed. I have no doubt whatever that these are doctrines of devils, and that they bespeak a revival of Antichrist in the bosom of the Church. This capacity of discerning the spirits which speak in the prophets seems to have been very widely, and in a degree universally, spread abroad in the Church. For the same John, when writing concerning these antichrists, speaketh thus to the whole Church: “But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth. These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him,” (1John 2.20, 21, 26, 27.) And our Lord, speaking upon the same subject of “false prophets,” giveth their “fruits” as a test by which all men should be able to prove them, (Matt, 7.) But while all do, no doubt, possess such a measure of discernment as to reject the falsehood and feed upon the truth, those to whom this gift was specially granted had the higher faculty of being able to expose the sophistry, and the hypocrisy, and subtlety of the devil, with which it comes arrayed: and to these persons the Church would always be beholden in a time of trial; and, having reliance upon them, they would minister that caution, consideration, and admonition against the evil, which would be effectual to the preservation of the Church from heresies and offences which must needs arise. Moreover, I have little doubt that this gift of detecting false spirits in the speech of men was also accompanied with the power of casting them out, in all such cases as were consistent with the moral responsibility of the man possessed. The prophet, I believe, might be taken at unawares, and, himself deceived, become a deceiver of others: in this case, being undeceived by the faithful discerner of spirits, he would make entreaty to be delivered, and, having faith in the presence and power of Christ in that man, he would be delivered without further delay. But in such a case as that referred to by John—of which those of Simon Magus, and Hymeneus, and Philetus, and Hermogenes are examples—where the wickedness of their own minds, their unfaithfulness to the Spirit of God, their time-serving, worldly, and ambitious dispositions of mind, were the occasions of their being delivered up to such possessions, it is clear that, until they repented and confessed their sin, and sought the unity of the Church again, they could and would receive no such deliverance from the hand of the Discerner of spirits. This, surely, was a very precious gift to the Church; and if, as all Scripture concurreth to predict, “the last times,” which immediately precede the coming of the Lord, shall be full of “false Christs and false prophets, who shall shew great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect,” we have need to stir up this gift which is in the Church. When we were weak and sickly, and gave him little trouble, Satan suffered us to go on declining, and took himself up with other matters; having administered to us the soporific of a lifeless system of orthodox terms, he went his way about other business: but, now that the Church is shaking herself from his bonds, and beginning to seek for her long-lost strength, and is putting it forth in word and deed, and lifting up the banner of truth, “Christ come in Flesh and to come in Lordship;” behold, he will send his Philistines upon us—spirits from the deep; and we will need the discernment of spirits to withstand him, nor shall we be without it. The Church is still the Church; her life is still in her, though sorely weakened; now she is beginning to breathe a purer air, and her faculties are returning; her weakened mind is beginning to understand doctrine, her miserable heart is beginning to conceive hope, and her closed lips to be opened with strong and fervent desires after her ancient strength and glory. Let her enemies beware; let the intruders into the fold make ready to depart let those who have lorded it over her prepare themselves for a day of recompense, because it is at hand, when she shall come forth ” bright as the sun, clear as the moon, and terrible as an army with banners.” Moreover, this discernment of spirits is an excellent gift and kind ministry of Christ unto His Church, whereby she is able to hold forth the truth before the world,—that her Head hath judged Beelzebub, the prince of the devils; hath judged the prince of this world, the spirit that now ruleth in the children of disobedience and not only so, but that He hath given to men the dominion over spirits, who through our wickedness have obtained dominion over us: and that His Church shall certainly trample Satan under foot, and judge angels, and triumph over all the powers of the enemy. But this brings us upon the vein which we have already opened when treating of the same endowment, as it was laid out in the promise of the Lord, whereof the first particular is, “Ye shall cast out devils.” Referring back to what was there said concerning the importance and the bearing of this sign, we now proceed to the eighth of these forms of the manifested Spirit, which is “divers kinds of tongues.”
This also having handled formerly, in the sense of a sign, and shewn the thing which it signified, we shall add here what light is afforded us as to the manner of its use and occupation. It was first imparted on the day of Pentecost, “when the disciples were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance,” (Acts 2.6.) Many, indeed almost all, have the notion that the apostles became all at once learned in, and masters of, foreign languages, so as to be able to express in the various tongues of men the knowledge which they possessed already. This is altogether an erroneous notion, as will appear; and the true one is contained in the words just quoted. They spoke according as the Spirit gave them to utter, not according to their own previous knowledge; and they spoke it in other tongues than that which was native to them. It was one acting of the Spirit to give them the matter and the word: it came to them clothed in word: not in the form of idea first, to be put by their volition and skill of language into the form of word; but at once, without their knowledge of the matter or of the word, it came to them; the Spirit gave them to utter what they did utter: what it was, they themselves might be ignorant of, or not, as it happened. It was one person’s gift to speak the language, it was another’s to interpret what was spoken: “To another, divers kinds of tongues; to another, the interpretation of tongues. . . . Do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?… Wherefore, let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. … If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. . . . Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” These passages, extracted from the 12th and 14th chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, shew that there was no necessary connexion between speaking with a tongue and understanding what was spoken; but, on the contrary, that the person so speaking in general understood not what he said; and if he did, the interpretation was a matter of as special revelation as was the utterance itself; both speaker and interpreter being alike ignorant of the meaning of any word which had been spoken, so as to be able to translate it into their mother tongue, or to know it grammatically, or in any way whatever to make use of it, until the Spirit moved again—or, rather, until the person possessed of the Spirit in this form put it forth into use. This idea, which is beyond a question the true one represented in these two chapters of the First Epistle to the Corinthians, is, I think, implied in the words quoted above from the Acts, where the use of the gift is first described: “They spake with other tongues, just as the Spirit gave to them to emit the voice.” The word translated ” utterance” is remarkable, signifying simply to “emit a voice,” to “sound forth;” and by the ancients was used of prophets, whom they believed to speak by another power than their own. It is only three times used in the New Testament once over again in this chapter, (ver. 14,) “But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and uttered,” or sounded forth, “to them;” and the third time, (Acts 26.26,) when Paul, being charged with being mad by Festus, probably from the violence of his voice or earnestness of his manner, replies, “I am not mad, most noble Festus, but speak forth (give forth) words of truth and soberness.” It was the Spirit which gave the disciples to send forth those sounds in which every nation there assembled heard their native tongue, and in it the wonderful works of God. It was Christ using His Church as His organ for declaring to all men in that assembly what God had done for Him, and for them whose substitute He was. And, no doubt, this is one reason of the diversity of tongues in the Church, because there is a diversity of tongues in the world to which the Church is called to preach the gospel. But this is only an accidental thing; for the whole world was once of one tongue, and might be so again: still, however, even in that case the Spirit would in the same way bring the thought embodied in word, and force it forth in that embodied form. In such a case, however, it would be prophecy, as carrying its own interpretation; and accordingly the apostle puts speaking with tongues, when coupled with interpretation, upon the same level with prophecy: “For greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.” I believe the words were sometimes brought to the prophet’s mind, as much as to the mind of him who spake with tongues; and that both did yield themselves in faith to the action of the Spirit, and serve Him with their tongue. It is also manifest, with respect to him that spake with tongues, that, though he understood not what he said, it was not on that account without edification to him: he tasted the sweetness and had a first-fruits of the profitableness of that truth which the Spirit was passing through his tongue to the understanding of another man. This is very mysterious, but not the less true on that account. “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth him, howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the Church,” (1Cor. 14.2-4.) This edification, which he derived from it to himself, joined to the wonderfulness of it, led some who possessed it to use it rashly and indiscreetly in the midst of the Church, where it could not profit; and to correct the selfishness from which this proceeded, and the confusion to which it gave rise, the apostle addresseth himself with great zeal. It hath been a subject of great thought with me to understand these things, which are the occasion of so much scoffing and blasphemy to many of my poor misguided countrymen; and I think God hath rewarded my study, of which I will now enumerate the results under their several heads.
First, This gift of tongues in the Church doth shew that the work of Christ in the flesh is for all men, and that He wisheth it to be published to all men; and, that His Church may not sleep over her vocation, nor be slack in the performance of it, nor sink down into local residences, good quarters, and comfortable settlements, but preserve her missionary spirit, and be a witness to every generation of every speech of men, she is endowed with these diversities of tongues, and goaded on to go forth to the nations, to seek ears for those words which are ever coming with such sweetness over her heart. It is like an ambassador’s commission; it is the Spirit saying to the Church, Send me this man forth. Paul spoke more abundantly with tongues than they all did (1Cor. 14.18) and Paul was the greatest missionary of them all. And what an assurance to a man’s heart, and confirmation to his faith, to have his mission thus ascertained to him, and sealed by the Holy Ghost! Methinks it would be more effectual than a salary of a thousand pounds by the year from the most notable of our missionary societies. I feel assured that these societies have so shamefully and shockingly come short of the mark in their faith and feeling, and performance also, that, if the world is to receive warning before the great and terrible day of the Lord, it must be by the Church seeking again for this long-lost endowment; seeking for her trumpet with its many notes, through which to speak to the nations.
Secondly, This gift of tongues doth put beyond all doubt the unity of Christ and His members, inasmuch as it shews Him in His people doing whatever their own soul within them can do. Speech is the means by which an embodied spirit doth manifest its existence; distinguishing man, a living soul, from every other living thing upon the earth. Speech is the manifestation of reason; and by our capacity of uttering, and understanding the words uttered, is proved the commonness, the oneness of that reason, in which many persons have their being. Now when Christ doth occupy the place of my reasonable spirit, and with my tongue doth express whatever I am capable of expressing, He is proved to be in me as truly . as I am in myself. If my body is known to be the habitation of my soul by its obeying all the desires of the soul, and expressing them in form of word; then, by the same method of conviction is Christ proved to be in me, when He doth through the organs of my body express His own mind to those whom I can by no means reach by any expression of my own. This same truth of an indwelling Christ is proved by any other of the gifts to the experience of him who hath them; but by the gift of tongues it is proved to others besides ourselves, even to all who hear in their own language the testimony of God and of Christ. It is seen that God is in me of a truth, when that power within me doth testify to no other person but to Christ, in His work of humiliation and exaltation, in His flesh and in His lordship. Now, if it be considered what a point of doctrine the union of Christ with believers is, the importance of the gift of tongues will the more appear. By the truth, that the spirit of a man out of the world dwells in many men in the world at one and the same time, and continues this inhabitation from age to age, what less is proved but that this person is also God? For who but God can thus connect that which is not in the world with that which is in the world; who but God can keep up the communication and the intercourse between the Father’s throne and the world? But, then, Christ’s soul being a limited substance, with which the Godhead continually acts, another question ariseth, How can this limited substance, which is now out of the world, be yet in the world, in the souls of many men, in all ages of the world? This can only be by means of another Being, proceeding from Christ to the bounds of all space and time, and able to unite them into oneness with Him. But in order that this maybe, he must be of one substance with Christ; and also he must be a person, in order to comprehend a person, and inform many persons with the same spirit. And thus is the Divinity and the Personality of the Comforter made to appear through this great truth of Christ the inhabiter of His people; which, again, is proved by His using their organs in a way in which they themselves are not able to do. Moreover, this power of Christ in the Spirit to speak all the diversities of speech, shews Him to be the fountain-head of speech, the Word, by whose endowment man is a word-speaking creature: while by his power to enter into all the forms of reason, and deliver God in such a way as all diversities of reason shall apprehend, He is proved to be the one Reason, of whose fulness we have all received, who lighteth every man that cometh into the world. What doth this inhabitation of my reason by another than myself, at His will, and using it in a way which unequivocally proves that He is another than myself; what doth this prove less than that I am but the tenant of that other’s domain, who thus masterfully can occupy His own, and for the while suspend my vicegerency?
Thirdly, But there is something deeper still than this oneness of reason and lordship of reason resident in Christ, proved by these gifts of tongues—namely, That a person is something more than that community of reason which he doth occupy as the tenant of Him whose name is The Logos, or The Reason. For it clearly appeareth, from the 14th chapter of the First of Corinthians, that when the man’s reason is wholly without fruit, when he understandeth nothing that is spoken, he doth yet receive great edification in his own spirit—”he edifieth himself” (ver. 4)—and holdeth, independent of reason, a communication with God—” he speaketh unto God,” (ver. 2.) Doth not this prove that all forms of the reason within, which speech expresseth outwardly, may be inactive—as if it were dead, “fruitless” and barren and yet the spirit itself be receiving great edification from God, through means which are wholly independent of intelligence? Indeed, to deny this, is to deny the possibility of direct communication between God and the soul otherwise than by speech or books which address us through the reason; it is to set aside the subject of spiritual gifts altogether: and methinks it takes away that personality from a man, by means of which it is that he informs, awakens, and occupies the gift of reason. The gift of tongues brings all speculation upon this subject to an end, and presents us with the fact, the experiment which decides the matter, by shewing us the reason void, and the spirit yet filled with edification. Nay, so clearly were the apostle, and those to whom he wrote, conscious to this thing, that he takes a distinction between praying in the spirit and praying in the understanding, praising in the spirit and praising in the understanding; holding man to be capable of worshipping and serving God when his understanding is wholly without activity. (See 1Cor. 14.14-17.) Nor could there be any mysticism or self-deception in this; for while my spirit was emptying itself of all its prayer and praise to God, my understanding not comprehending a word, if any should think it were but a farce and profanation, another person, understanding the language, will contradict him, and let him know that it is sound sense and pure religion which I am expressing. And yet the words are not necessary for God’s ear; and the apostle recommends, yea, and strongly urges it, that, when no man able to understand the language was present, or no one who had the gift of interpretation, it were better to keep silence, and enjoy the communion with God through the Spirit only: “But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God,” (ver. 28.) What a deep subject of meditation were a man thus employed in secret converse with and enjoyment of God, although his reason be utterly dead! He is not able to communicate thereof to another person: for the world he is as one dead: for all that he holds in common with men he is as one dead: he is in the state of a separate spirit, and he is enjoying the same inward delight with God which I suppose the separate spirits to enjoy. And I might ask, is not this the essence of all spiritual religion,—the enjoyment and communion of the spirit with God in that capacity which death nowise affecteth? And is not the use of reason altogether for the impartation of this to others, for the edification of the Church? But conclusion rises upon conclusion. It is a great subject this of the gift of tongues. I wish someone would retrieve it from the ignorance and folly and mockery of those revilers who have lately so insulted this mystery of our faith, and laughed to scorn this endowment of the Church, understanding no more by it than a short-hand way of acquiring languages.
Upon the ninth and last of these gifts, “the interpretation of tongues,” little need be added, as it is so intimately connected with the former. It did not consist in their know- ledge of the strange words, or the structure of the foreign languages. It was nothing akin to translation; the Spirit did not become a schoolmaster at all; but brought to the man’s soul with the certainty of truth, that this which He was giving him to utter was the interpretation of the thing which the other had just spoken. This conviction might be brought to the spirit of the speaker himself, and then he was his own interpreter; but it was more frequent to bestow that gift upon another. This provision of an order who should interpret, as well as an order who should speak with tongues, shews that the gift of tongues had a higher origin than from the variety of languages amongst men. If it had been merely for preaching the truth to people of other languages, an order of interpreters would never have been required at all. If it had only been given for conveying the truth to foreign nations, then why have so many in each church, like the church of Corinth? If it be said, this was to stir them to go forth to those whose tongues they had received; while I allow that this is so far forth good and true, it is by no means the whole truth; for why, then, have an order of interpreters there also? This shews that the gift was good for that Church in itself; that it was resident in the churches for home use, as well as for service abroad; and that God saw such use in it, as to provide another ministry for the purpose of making it available to the uses for which it was given. If the circumstance of the language being foreign would have prompted them to go forth to the heathen, the interpretation being at hand would prompt them to remain with the Church; and both being standing orders in the Church, we conclude that this gift of speaking with another tongue, and the other gift of interpreting what was spoken, are, being taken together, a constant accomplishment of the Church, necessary to her completeness wherever she is, and to be continued with her even though the whole world had been converted to the faith and the office of the missionary were done away with for ever. Let us consider this twofold ordinance as one, and see what it yieldeth. If there should be in our church an order of men, of whom the Spirit so manifestly took possession as to make them utter the mysteries of godliness in an unknown tongue, and another order of men to whom the Spirit divided the power of interpreting the same, the first impression that would be made by it is, that verily God was in us of a truth, as truly as He was in the Shechinah of the holy place; and the next, that He was speaking forth oracles for our obedience. The unknown tongue, as it began its strange sounds, would be equal to a voice from the glory, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts,” or “This is my Son, hear ye him;” and every ear would say, “Oh that I knew the voice;” and when the man with the gift of interpretation gave it out in the vernacular tongue, we would be filled with an awe, that it was no other than God who had spoken it. Methinks it is altogether equal to the speaking with the trumpet from the thick darkness of the Mount, or with a voice as thunder from the open vault of heaven. The using of man’s organs is, indeed, a mark of a new dispensation, foretold as to come to pass after Christ ascended up on high, when He would receive gifts and bestow them upon men, that the Lord God might dwell, might have an habitation, in them. Formerly the sounds were syllabled we know not how, because God had not yet prepared for Himself a tent of flesh ; which He accomplished to do first in Jesus of Nazareth, and is now perfecting in His Church, who are His temple, in whom He abideth as in the holy place, and from whom He speaketh forth His oracles in strange tongues. The strange tongue takes away all source of ambiguity, proving that the man himself hath nothing to do with it, and leaves the work and the authority of the word wholly in the hand of God. And therefore tongues are called a sign to the unbeliever, 1Cor. 14.22: “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” Just as the voice given at Bethabara over the baptized Christ was spoken as a ground of faith to the unbelieving Jew, and the voice given before His passion was a confirmation to the faith of the inquiring Greek, and of all who heard it: so these voices, spoken forth from the breasts of men, by a power not human, but divine, are intended to convince the unbelievers that God really dwelleth in the Church; hath chosen the Church for His habitation; and that, if they would find Him, they must seek Him there, for nowhere else is He to be found. The prophet Isaiah, to whom it was given to forewarn men of this particular gift of tongues, doth so speak of it as a fresh evidence which God would give to men for a ground of believing, and which, alas ! they would also reject. I take the quotation as the apostle hath sanctioned it, the Holy Spirit’s version of His own words: “With men of other tongues, and other lips, will I speak unto this people: and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord,” (1Cor. 14.21.) I cannot but look upon this gift of tongues as sealing up the sum of God’s dealings with men for their obedience of faith. It is the very power of God, which to blaspheme is to blaspheme the Holy Ghost. And witness what power it had on the day of Pentecost, when three thousand were added to the Church. This is the “greater thing” which was to be done by him that believeth. No one could say that Jesus was the Christ, that God was in Him, but by the Spirit leading him into the truth of what He spoke, or convincing him of the Divine nature of the works which He did. God did not manifest Himself in Christ in this unequivocal way; for Christ’s life was not a witness to Himself, but to the Father. Christ came to do the Father’s will in our condition, that we in the like case might be assured of power and ability through Him to do the same. He was the prototype of a perfect and holy man under the conditions of the Fall, that we, under those conditions, might know there was power and will in God that we should all be perfect and holy. This being accomplished, and Christ ascended up on high, God sets on foot another work, which is to testify that honour to which man had become advanced in the person of the Son of man, and in all other persons who by faith should be united to Him, As God had shewn how far man had fallen in Adam, by the state of the world under sin and suffering and death; so, by the Church would He shew how far man had risen in Christ, that all men believing in Him might be brought to that exceeding exaltation. Therefore in the Church He shews not man’s identity with the fallen Adam, but man’s identity with the risen Adam. In the incarnation, Christ’s identity with the fallen man was shewn, yet without sin : in the Church, Christ’s identity with God is shewn, the power and glory of God in Him are exhibited, that all men might believe in His name. This gift of tongues is the crowning act of all. None of the old prophets had it; Christ had it not; it belongs to the dispensation of the Holy Ghost proceeding from the risen Christ: it is the proclamation that man is enthroned in heaven, that man is the dwelling-place of God, that all creation, if they would know God, must give ear to man’s tongue, and know the compass of reason. It is not we that speak, but Christ that speaketh. It is not in us as men that God speaks; but in us as members of Christ, as the Church and body of Christ, that God speaks. The honour is not to us, but to Christ; not to the Godhead of Christ, which is ever the same, but to the manhood of Christ, which hath been raised from the state of death to the state of being God’s temple, God’s most holy place, God’s shechinah, God’s oracle, for ever and ever. “And yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.” It is most true, O God: they will not hear even this, because total ignorance has benighted them: nor are they capable of apprehending truth; the vanity of their minds hath carried them away “they are drunken, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with strong drink; for thou hast poured out upon them the spirit of deep sleep, and hast closed their eyes; their prophets and the rulers the seers hath he covered.” Then, O Lord, if Thou hast given them up, and they may not bf convinced, let this strengthen Thy children, and against the rest let it turn for a testimony—a testimony to Thy truth, a testimony to their falsehood and hypocrisy. “O that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the children of the daughter of
Having thus opened at large the endowment of the Church, the body of Christ, and shewn of what it is the first fruits and the earnest, it may be expected that I should enter into controversy with those who say they have been withdrawn, and are not to be restored again; that they were only intended to abide for season, until the evidence of the Christian religion should have been securely established, and the canon of Scripture completed. But, before I can think this worth the while, I must first see where they get the grounds of their hypothesis, that they were intended only to continue for that brief season; in the meantime I pronounce it to be of their own invention, and not at all of the Word of God. I have shewn the great purpose and end of this endowment of spiritual gifts; that purpose and end is not temporary, but perpetual, till Christ’s coming again; when that which is perfect shall come, and that which is in part shall be done away. If they ask for an expiation of the fact that these powers have ceased in the Church, I answer, that they have decayed just as faith and holiness have decayed; but that they have ceased is not a matter so clear. Till the time of the Reformation, this opinion was never mooted in the Church; and to this day the Roman Catholics, and every other portion of the Church but ourselves, maintain the very contrary. Moreover, it is only of later days that any one hath dared to assert that the gifts of prophecy and healing are no longer to be looked for. Read the lives of the Reformers, of the Puritans, of the Covenanters, written by sound and zealous Protestants; read the histories of the Church written more than fifty years ago—our Petrie, for example—and shew me whether these writers hold it blasphemy to say that a man may be, and hath been, gifted with both these gifts, especially that of prophecy? Who has not heard of the prophecies of Huss, and of Wishart? Amongst the Protestants of the elder day, who had in them a good measure of faith, even beyond what their creed expressed, I find no such hard scepticism and mocking scorn as hath been sounded abroad within these months past, of the shame of those who have uttered it, if they be capable of the sense of shame. But if I am called upon to declare why Protestants have not enjoyed the manifestation of these gifts, I not only refer to the general tenor of their creed upon the subject, which hath leant to the side of their being ceased; but, which is of much more importance than a written creed, I refer to the spirit of their doctrine, and their preaching, and their practice. And I would say, that this gift hath ceased to be visible in the Church, because of her great ignorance concerning that work of Christ at His second coming, of which it is the continual sign; because of her most culpable ignorance of Christ’s crowned glory, of which it is the continual demonstration; because of her indifference to the world without, for preaching to which the gift of the Holy Ghost is the continual furnishing and outfit of the Church. Since the Reformation little else has been preached besides the baptismal and eucharistical gift, the work of Christ’s death unto the justification and sanctification of the believer. The dignity and office of the Church, as the fulness of the Lord of all, hath not been fully preached, or firmly held, and is now almost altogether lost sight of. Church government, bickerings about the proper form of polity and the standing of the civil magistrate to the Church and in the Church, have been almost the only things concerning the Church which have come into question among Protestants; and there hath been no holding of her up to the heathen as the holy place of God, but, on the contrary, the presentation of a Book in the stead thereof. Not but the Reformation was the beginning of a great and a good work; but that, so far from having made progress towards completion, it has gone a great way backward, and in our hands is a poor shred of what it was in the hands of Luther, and Hooker, and the like. But things are taking a turn. Let the Church know that things are taking a mighty turn. There is a shining forth of truth in these subjects beyond, former days. The power and glory of a risen Lord, as well as the holiness of a Lord in flesh, is beginning to be understood and discoursed of; and the enemy would spread a curtain of thin sophistry between the Church and the bright dawn: he might as well hide the morning by drawing before our eyes the spider’s cobweb, or the frost-work of the night, which the rising sun quickly dissipates—and so, I trust, may these poor men, who write their unsober and uncharitable revilings in their several parcels of periodical abuse, be themselves, like the frost-work of the morning, absorbed into the glorious light which the rising morn is shedding around them. But be this as it may, now that the inward work of apprehending the glory of Christ is begun, and proceeding apace, we may surely expect that the outward means of convincing the world that it is no cunningly contrived fable, will be afforded to the Church; and that she will have her full dignity restored to her of testifying not only to a holy Lord in flesh crucified for all men, but of a risen Lord in power and glory, crowned for His Church, and in His Church putting forth unto the world a first-fruits of that power and government over all creation which in her He shall ever exercise over all creation. These gifts have ceased, I would say, just as the verdure and leaves and flowers and fruits of the spring and summer and autumn cease in winter, because, by the chill and wintry blasts which have blown over the Church, her power to put forth her glorious beauty hath been prevented. But because the winter is without a green leaf or beautiful flower, do men thereof argue that there shall be flowers and fruits no more? Trusting to the Word of God, who hath created everything to produce and bring forth its kind, man puts out his hand in winter, and makes preparations for the coming year: so, if the Church be still in existence, and that no one denies; and if it be the law and end of her being to embody a first-fruits and earnest of the power which Christ is to put forth in the redemption of all nature; then, what though she hath been brought so low, her life is still in her, and that life will, under a more genial day, put forth its native powers. Will God be baffled in His own most perfect work, in that work which He hath wrought for the honour of His Son? I trow not. The Church is in the condition of a man faint, and sick, and apparently dead, who putteth forth neither manly voice nor vigorous action, and is even incapable of thought, and almost beyond feeling; but let that man revive again, (and we know the Church never dies,) and he will both hear and see and feel and act the man. So, if the Church reviveth, she must act as the Church; which is not in the way of holiness merely, but in the way of power, for the manifestation of the completeness of Christ’s work in flesh, and the first-fruits of the same work in glory. The Church is like a man who has been fed upon sloes, without fruits and husks, without kernels, refuse which the swine should eat; and she is grown lean and weak and helpless; and, moreover, she has grown degraded in her ideas—she’ has forgotten the nobility of her birth, and the grandeur of her destination; but what then? give her proper meat, give her nourishing drink, feed her with marrow and with fatness, and she will put forth her might again, and rejoice in her high places. The question is, whether that be the endowment of the Church which we have laid down above? If so, then rest assured that when she revives again she will embody the law according to which she was made, and shew forth the beauty and put forth the power with which she was endowed in the day of her birth. If there be a revival, shew ill put forth consentaneously and altogether more knowledge, more love, more power, more holiness, more complete testimony to the power of Him whose members she is, of that Spirit which abideth in her, of that God which worketh all the gifts in all the members. They called Methodism and Evangelicalism a revival: I always have maintained that, though better than downright Pelagianism, they were far behind the Reformation; which itself was only the beginning of a glorious work, strangled in its cradle. But now I see a revival worthy of the name—revival of doctrine, of discipline, of holiness. Christians are beginning to speak their native language of faith and truth, and to endure their prerogative of being partakers of the Lord’s sufferings. And if this revival proceed, it cannot but shew itself in all those essential functions for which the Church was constituted; of which one is, to enjoy and hold forth a first-fruits of that power which Christ is to act out in the day of His appearing. I feel it of the greatest importance that those who are seeking to deter men from these great truths should be resisted, and that their mouths should be stopped: I feel it of still more importance that those who are inquiring and searching into these things should proceed with faith and prayer, under the guidance of God’s Holy Word.
And, therefore, with all patience, as one who is working for a master the work that his master hath set him to do, have I endeavoured to exhibit at large the Church’s endowment of her Great Head, consisting of two parts: the first, the inheritance of His complete work wrought in the flesh; the second, the first-fruits of the work which He is to work when He comes again. The former consisteth in perfect holiness, through the renewal of the soul; which is strengthened to subdue the innate propensities of the flesh to evil, to crucify the world, and to overcome the evil one. This we have served out to us in the two sacraments of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; in the one of which we receive cleanness of conscience, and in the other participation of Christ’s sanctified flesh and purchased inheritance. But none of these go further than to possess us of what He purchased in the flesh: “This is my body, given for you; this is my blood, shed for the remission of sins:” His body, given for the life of the world; His blood, shed for the putting away of all sin. The Church hath perfect holiness ministered to her in these two ordinances: Christ doth thereby dispense that gift of the Spirit which was dispensed to Him by the Father in the days of His flesh, and by the faithful use of which He “sanctified Himself.” And we, having in these most comfortable ordinances that blessed fellowship of holiness, should sanctify ourselves, that we may be holy as He is holy. This is the work of the Spirit uniting us unto Christ; taking out of us our unholiness and grafting us into Christ. There is a power in the Spirit to wash the Ethiopian white. It is not in man, but it is in God, to do so; and the element with which to do it He hath in the blood of Christ, which cleanseth away all sins. Every man baptized into the Church is answerable for a life of spotless, stainless holiness. What though no man hath yielded it? So much the more is the sinfulness of our nature proved, and the divinity of Christ shewn, who did present mortal flesh sinless: and let Him be glorified, and every man be a liar. But the truth of God standeth not the less sure. “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Out of this claim which God hath, and this power which we receive after baptism, for a perfect holiness, come our confessions in the Church, which are confessions not only of the natural guilt and strength of sin, but of the deeper and deeper guilt which it hath contracted in our eyes by warring against the Spirit of God, and striking at the life of Christ in the soul of the believer. Not only a creation-defiling, but a Redeemer-slaying thing is sin; not only aiming at the work of God, but at the person of God manifest in flesh. This standard of perfection is what we measure ourselves by, and not each man’s notion of what he can attain to. Man, though fallen into a state of weakness, is still kept responsible for the law of perfect holiness, as at the beginning: and he is brought to depend upon God the Redeemer, the incarnate God, the God proceeding forth into flesh to uphold it ; and so believing in a God creating, a God incarnate, and a God proceeding forth upon flesh, in order to attain unto holiness, we attain thereunto, and are stable therein; and so are brought into the great truth of God, that no holiness can be otherwise effected save by the faith of God in Trinity acting according to their offices. The sin which occurreth in the Church is through want of faith in the Godhead thus manifested; and that sin continually occurring, through the defect of our faith, is the occasion for a continual High Priest over the house of God, whose work of intercession may continually go on. Of this there is no doubt, that every member of Christ is bound and obliged to perfect holiness, and hath the means of fulfilling it and however far he comes short thereof, he must take the guilt to himself, and not look upon it as an ordinance or appointment of God, as a necessary imperfection in the work of Christ, and a native impotency in the Holy Ghost, Now this is the more excellent way of charity, or love, which the apostle commendeth above all spiritual gifts: it is the knowledge of Christ, and the being known of Him; the doing the will of the Father: for the want of which He shall not admit into the kingdom many who in that day shall come with their spiritual gifts in their hand, saying, “Have we not prophesied in thy name, and in thy name cast out devils, and in thy name done many wonderful works?” This we never for a moment gainsay or undervalue, while we insist that, besides this, there is yet another thing resident in the Church; another work which she has to do besides the work of holiness in the flesh. We hold the highest doctrine here, both as to the importance of this personal holiness, without which no one shall see the Lord; and of its measure, even perfectness, whereof love is the bond. Let no one say, then, that we undervalue the sacramental ministration of a cleansed soul and a holy body, when we insist from the premises laid down above, that there is another office to which the Church is called besides this, and another endowment with which she is gifted by her Lord and Husband; the dowry, not of holiness only, but also of power. And for this she waited until He Himself should, from the throne of God, shed it down abundantly upon His Church. Into both of these is the Church baptized, as Peter said: “Repent and be baptized for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” There mission, or putting away, of sin, is that into which we are baptized, as a thing done for the world by Christ’s sacrifice of Himself; the gift of the Holy Ghost is that which to faith follows thereon—though, to convince Peter of God’s equal goodness to the Gentiles, it was poured out upon Cornelius and his company before their baptism. The Samaritan Church had the gift of baptism without the gift of the Holy Ghost, which they received by the hands of the apostles; and thereby we perceive that the Church may exist without the gift. But whether it is right in the sight of God that she should so exist, let any one judge, after perusing the things written above. We have shut ourselves out by unbelief from the enjoyment of one great part of our dowry; whereby not only are we straitened, but the glory of our Lord and Husband is obscured, the world is deprived of its witness and testimony, and the gracious ends of God, so far as we can, defeated; and guilt is upon our head, as baptized men, for not using that which we are baptized into, for the possession and for the use of which we are responsible.