PRESENT-DAY PAMPHLETS III

 

 

IRVINGISM, TONGUES,

and the

GIFTS of the HOLY GHOST.

 

 

By

 

D. M. PANTON.

 

 

 

SECOND EDITION

 

 

LONDON:

 

 

 

CHAS.  J.  THYNNE & JARVIS, LTD.,

 

Whitefriars Street, E.C. 4.

 

 

 

 

1923

 

 

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[Page 3]

 

THE supernatural is not Divine because it is miraculous.   “For our wrestling,” says the Apostle, “is not against flesh and blood; but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world-rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6: 12).  An unseen host, active behind the ruin of men and the wreck of nations, and often most seductive were least recognised or understood, can make itself felt in dream and vision and oracle, and slowly reveals the point to which its organised efforts are directed.  For the Scriptures are burdened with the portentous shadow of Antichrist.   Powers, signs, and wonders, such as thwarted Moses in the sorceries of Jannes and Jambres, and Paul in the machinations of Elymas, are to be poured forth, in triple perfection of miracle, from the Satanic energies of the Man of Sin.1 Further, between Pentecost and the last crisis appear, century by century, groups of spiritual phenomena apparently related, and enveloped, to human observers, in bewildering obscurity, because directed by an intelligence that works, not by years, but by centuries, in furtherance of designs not temporary, but eternal.  “Recognising, as we do,” observes Dr. Plumptre, “the great gap which separates the work of the [Holy] Spirit on the day of Pentecost from all others, both in its origin and [Page 4] its fruits, there is, it is believed, no reason for rejection the thought that there might be like phenomena standing to it in the relation of foreshadowings, approximations, counterfeits2 But the manifest return, in our own day, of a sycle of the supernatural, more than of old organised and aggressive, calls to mind former periods in which Satan has roused all his forces into activity, and God has counter-worked with swift and appalling power.  It is impossible but that our thoughts should turn to the apostolic gifts.   By the gift 3 of the Holy Ghost, manifested in many gifts 4 - the Spirit 5 apportioned in distributions of the Spirit 6 - the church, enabled to discern spirits, to heal, to speak in tongues, to prophesy, even to raise the dead, once triumphed over the powers of Satan.  Epochs of critical importance, the junctions of the dispensations, have had massed about them, from earliest times, a mustering for spiritual conflict:- as, in synagogue, and wilderness, and amid the idolatries of pagan cities, Christ and His apostles collided sharply with, and sternly silenced, the hosts of evil.   Thus divinely armoured the Church of God refuted Satanic wiles with the tremendous refutation of mightier miracle.

 

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1. “Whose coming [presence] is according to the working of Satan with all POWER and SIGNS and WONDERS [wrought on behalf] of falsehood” (2 Thess. 2: 9).  No stronger words can be used to express even Divine miracle.

 

2. Smith’s Bible Dictionary, article, “Gift of Tongues

 

3. John 7: 39; Acts 2: 38; 8: 20; 11: 17.

 

4. 1 Cor. 12: 4, 31; 1 Tim. 4: 14; and Eph. 4: 8.

 

5. Acts 1: 8, 15: 8.

 

6. Acts 8: 15, 19: 2; 1 Cor. 15: 12, 32, and Heb. 2: 4.  Our Lord alone received the Spirit in His sevenfold fulness.  Is. 11: 2, John 3: 34, Rev. 3: 1.

 

 

MIRACLES SINCE THE APOSTLES

 

 

But have Divine miracles ever ceased?  After the lapse of the uncertain epoch in which the apostolic miracles disappeared,1 groups of wonder-workers arise, develop, and [Page 5] decay.  These post-apostolic miracles present a common character.2  They are not the fruits of an organised and continuous communication of supernatural power.  We find (1) healing, the sign most difficult to pronounce certainly miraculous, the miracle oftenest alleged; yet without systematic healing by apostles of gifted disciples, accompanied by miracles of resurrection, sufficiently public and certain to attest a work of God.  (2) Dreams, presentiments, and visions are equally inconclusive.  Joel (2: 8), it is true, foretold visions, which were frequent in the lives of the apostles; but they are certain proof of miracle to none but the seer himself; and sometimes, as in the case of Swedenborg, prince of visionaries, are traceable to sources demonstrably evil.  Dreams and visions do not rank with the distinctive gifts of the [Holy] Spirit as enumerated by Paul (1 Cor. 12: 8-10).  (3) Alleged exorcisms are no more decisive.  Discernment of spirits, but not apparently their expulsion, is a supernatural gift.  Demons yield to the ungifted believer’s faithful utterance of the name of Jesus; coupled, in severe cases, with prayer and fasting (Mark 9: 29).  Besides, it is possible for spiritual trickery to be substituted for real exorcism.3  (4) Signal answers to prayer, as in George Muller’s orphanages, may be, together with cure and dream, God’s gracious response to individual faith, but are not properly ‘workings of miracles  As Mr. Muller put it:- “I have the grace of faith, but not the gift of faith  (5) Prophets, however, present a more tangible claim; and such, asserting their own divine [Page 6] inspiration, arose among Montanists, Camisards, and Quakers.  But it is impossible to suppose these divinely inspired.  Motanus said, “I am the Lord God Almighty, dwelling in man”; “I am the Holy Ghost”;4 the French Prophets failed in prediction after prediction; and the first Quaker ‘prophets’ taught doctrine frankly Gnostic.5  Each of these facts, amply substantiated, is fatal.  (6) Tongues are unquestionably supernatural, but, in themselves, yield no proof of their origin.  The Apostles - the pagan Oracles - Spiritualist mediums - heathen witchcraft, all have possessed ‘tongues’; and the woman-founder [Page 7] of the Shakers was said to speak supernaturally in seventy-two languages.  (7) The alleged Roman miracles remain; are these the legitimate successors to the powers, signs, and wonders which attested the work of Christ, and accompanied the first believers?  Acute difficulties to this view are at once apparent.  Roman miracles, as alleged, are rarely great; sometimes, if they occurred as recorded, they border on the ridiculous;6 at others they may rightly be defined as superstitious;7 and, taken as a whole, they startle us by their resemblance to antics of the s้ance,8  Had they been consistent attendants on the claimants to the successorship of the apostles; grave, majestic, and beneficent; and put forward as a body of adequate evidence sealing the word preached – the claim would have demanded serious and reverent attention.  But such has never been the character of the ecclesiastical miracles.9 “It is not often that the gift of miracles,” says Cardinal Newman, “is even ascribed to a Saint.  In many cases miracles are only ascribed to their tombs or relics; or when miracles are ascribed to them when living, these are but single and occasional, not parts of a series.”10  Thus they differ, from [Page 8] the foundation upward, from the Scriptural gift of miracles.  “Those,” says Mr. Lecky, “who know the tone that is habitually adopted on these subjects by the educated in Roman Catholic countries will admit that, so far from being a subject of triumphant exultation, the very few modern miracles which are related are everywhere regarded as a scandal, a stumbling-block, and a difficulty11  Thus the systems of miracle since the apostles, and earlier than this century, have been un-apostolic; put forward by no accredited witnesses, with bodily eyes, or the risen Christ (1 Cor. 9: 1); with evidence too scanty and casual to afford us any sure foothold; and in their character intemperate, fantastic, and sometimes positively evil.12

 

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1. “Many in the Church,” says Iraeneus in A.D. 176, “possess prophetic gifts, and speak through the Spirit in all kinds of tongues”; “of miraculous powers,” says Chrysostom, about A.D. 400. “not even a vestige is left”: somewhere between these dates Divine miracles ceased.  The Didache (pp. 50-55) directs how Prophets, obviously customary guests, were to be entertained.

 

2. As intercourse with evil spirits advances, so does superstition, pari passu; the paltry wonders of the s้ance go to countenance coats that are peculiar only by reason of their offensive age, and splinters of the cross too recently cut from the forest to require a miracle of preservation.  Superstition attributes to the supernatural that which is natural.  E.g., Acts 28: 4.  Such is the belief in rain-makers, Jer. 14: 22.  In the Scriptures alone do we find that even balance of mind which neither lapses into superstition, nor hardens into unbelief.

 

3. Pastor Blumhardt, in modern days, has healed hundreds of demoniacs: on the other hand, Spiritualists and Theosophists solemnly cast out, tricked by deceptive powers.  The spirits foretold (1 Tim. 4: 1) are seducing spirits.

 

4. Mr. Prince, of the Agapemone, advanced the same awful doctrine.  “I can do likewise, as respects what I have stated of myself, as the Holy Ghost personified  Letter quoted in The Heresy of Mr. Prince, p. 10; by J. G. Deck, London, 1845.  These examples prove the danger the Spiritualist incurs in trusting to an appearance of goodness in his familiars.  “We know,” says the editor of Two Worlds (April, 1897), in reply to the second Present Day Pamphlet, “their loving and helpful spirit, their wise ans faithful guidance and friendship; hence your hysterical appeal affects us not  Yet Montanus was led into blasphemy by a spirit much closer in its profession to Christianity than is any modern ‘control’ of whom I ever heard; and Montanism, says Eusebius, “was held in abhorrence by the whole Christian Brotherhood throughout the world  Casual scrutiny is quite inadequate.  Even Mr. Irvine said, “It is amazing how subtle they are  (Letter dated Nov. 19, 1831.)

 

5.  See R. Govett’s The Trinity, the Christ, and the Antichrists.  For a careful estimate of these ‘prophets’ – so radically distinct from later Quakers in creed and character – see also the Rev. Charles Leslie’s Works, vol. 2., London, 1721.  A valuable summary of both Montanism and the Camisards will be found in Dean Goode’s Modern Claims to the Gifts of the Spirit, pp. 105-152, and 169-196; London, 1834.  Other ‘prophets’ were too grotesque, as among the Mormons, or too full of corrupt doctrine, as among the Gnostics, to be seriously discussed as recipients of the Holy Ghost, even though supernatural utterance be admitted; and others, as the prophets that hindered the Reformers, bore marks of falsehood from the first.  For Luther’s encounter with the latter, see D’Aubigne’s History of the Reformation, vol. iii., ch. viii.  Among Mormon vagaries, time has falsified the foretold restoration of Israel in the native Indians of America.  “He will assemble the natives,” says the Proclamation of the Twelve Apostles (p. 8, New York and Liverpool, 1845), “the remnants of Joseph in America, and make of them a great, and strong, and powerful nation

 

6. As in Dr. Newman’s Two Essays on Miracles, pp. 129, 133.

 

7. Ibid, pp. 129, 130, 134.

 

8. Ibid, pp 119, 122, 123, 128, 131.  Cf. Dr. Trench, On the Miracles, p. 55.

 

9. It is significant that the epoch between Scriptural miracles and the early Roman, in which they should have continued unbroken, is just the epoch in which any evidence for miracle at all is faintest.  Early Christian writers admitted that decisive miracles ceased with the Apostles.  See Mozley, On the Miracles, p. 165.  The defence of the Roman signs set up by Cardinal Newman is vitiated by an amazing blunder.  He recognises no supernatural powers in Satan.  “The agency of God,” he says (Essays, p. 30), “is the only known cause of supernatural power  This enormously simplified the Cardinal’s task; for proof of reality in the Romish wonders was thus equally proof of their Divine origin.  But to us, who are actually experiencing an outburst of demonic energy, such a blunder is impossible.  If genuine, to whom but to deceptive powers can be due apparitions of the Virgin, Loyola’s inearthly lights and levitations, and cures by tomb and shrine and relic?

 

10. Essays, p. 220.  “The miracles of Christ and His Apostles,” Dr. Trench rightly observes (On the Miracles, p. 53), “we have a right to consider as normal, in their chief features at least, for all future miracles, if such were to continue in the Church

 

11. Rationalism in Europe, vol. i., p. 143.  For an acute examination of the mediaeval miracles, see Canon Isaac Taylor’s Ancient Christianity.  Partial prediction, based on wide knowledge, prolonged observation, and shrewd deductive power, such as must be possessed by classes of fallen spirits, has been successfully hazarded in the oracle and the s้ance; but absolute foreknowledge belongs to God alone (Isa. 41: 23).  Spontaneous cases of divine inspiration, unconnected with a settled order, appear possible, although unknown to the church when governed by apostles.  Such were Mary, Elizabeth, Zacharias, Simeon, and Anna.  Luke 1: 41-55, 67-79, 2: 27-38.

 

12. It is needless to add that Spiritualism, now propagated with ardour inside the Churches by such clergymen as the Rev. C. L. Tweedale, is a pure and elemental apostasy.  Mr. Tweedale says, for example: “The Church’s doctrine of the Resurrection of the flesh is a fundamental error  Spirit Phenomena and the Churches, p. 5.  See the forst two Persent Day Pamphlets on Spiritualism (Thyme & Jarvis).

 

 

ASSOCIATES AND SUCCESSORS OF MR. IRVING

 

 

Far the most plausible, elaborate, and impressive claim to the exercise of miraculous powers, incomparably one open to examination than Montanism, and far closer to its Apostolic model than the modern Tongues Movement, was that put forward under the ministry of Edward Irving, and sustained by his successors:- “certain congregations who, abiding in the Catholic faith, are waiting the appearing of our Lord from heaven”1 - “built up, not on the [Page 9] mere word of deceased ministers, but on the offices of living apostles and prophets2 “This original hope of Christians,” in the words of an official publication, “which declined with the ‘first love,’ has been revived by the voice of the Comforter, speaking, as of old, by the members of the Body of Christ, and enabling them to receive, with faith and obedience, Apostles, whom the Lord, by the same Spirit, has sent to prepare His way before Him3 “We are able to testify,” say the ‘angels’ of the London churches, “in the presence of the Church of Christ, that God has vouchsafed to restore Apostles and Prophets4 A restoration of apostles, with supernatural powers to compel attention, and with high utterance thus authoritatively upheld, is not in itself impossible; the hope of it is not, so far as I am aware, negatived in the Scriptures; and, however various the channels through which conflicting schools of thought would expect such a restoration, probably no body of Christians is unprepared to take such a claim so upheld [Page 10] into consideration.  Apostles, it is probable, would be restored with restored gifts of miracle.  But it is obvious that a claim so lofty, so fascinating, and if unfounded so arrogant, demands the most circumspect caution, and careful sifting in the light of the words of those beyond doubt apostles.  For it is possible for a church to be deceived by false apostles.  “I know thy works,” says Christ to the Ephesian Angel, “and thy toil and patience, and that thou canst not bear evil men, and didst try them that call themselves apostles, and they are not, and didst FIND THEM FALSE” (Rev. 2: 2).  Certain outstanding landmarks prevent us from straying far.  Without the ‘signs’ of an apostle, apostleship does not exist: successors of apostles, without their signs, are not apostles: and apostles with signs, but not apostolic “signs, and wonders, and mighty works” (2 Cor, 12: 12), are false apostles.  Satan has his apostles (2 Cor. 11: 13), in presence of whom the church, without such definite tests recollected and applied, would be - in some cases, has been - a prey to supernatural imposture, or the mistaken or arrogant claims of ecclesiasticism.  “Beware,” said our Lord, “of FALSE PROPHETS” (Matt. 7: 15).  “God never sent any prophet,” says Luther, “who was not either called by proper persons, or authorized by special miracles, no, not even His own Son.  Their bare assertion of a Divine afflatus is not sufficient ground for your receiving them  Nor are the successors of Mr. Irving unaware of these dangers.  “The enemy,” say the ‘angels,’ “has come down in great wrath, knowing that his time is short.  False prophets, deceivers in the spiritual and in the natural world, have arisen, and are busily at work upon the errands of hell,”5.  We act then with the approval of sound judgment, of the “Catholic Apostolic” Church itself,6 and above all of Him whose discriminating tests we would reverently apply, when we [Page 11] put all apostles and prophets to proof.7  Paul himself was content to submit his apostleship to an appeal to facts (2 Cor. 12: 12).  Nor is this inquiry unfriendly, or unsympathetic; for we remember that the claim is advanced by some who preach Christ crucified, and look for His return; and to all such gentleness, not hostility, love, not censoriousness, are due in Christ; for all down the ages, counterfeits of Apostolic gifts have always ensnared the holy on their holiest side.

 

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1.  Preface to Hynms

 

2. Pleadings, with the Church in Scotland, p. 137; by T. Carlyle [an ‘apostle’], Edinburgh, 1854.

 

3. Preface to Hymns.

 

4. Circular letter To all who Profess the Faith in Christ, 1856.  So also Testimonies to the Rulers in all Churches and States, to the King and Privy Council, and to English Bishops.  This church was thus constituted.  After the appearance of the ‘gifts,’ a ‘prophet,’ at a meeting for prayer, declared one of those present an ‘apostle’; later an ‘evangelist’ was called to the apostleship; others - clergymen, lawyers, doctors - were named, to the number of twelve.  Together with seven ‘prophets,’ the ‘apostles’ withdrew to Albury Park, and, under the general direction of the supposed supernatural utterance, complied portions of the present ornate service.  Directed by this ‘utterance,’ they dispersed, beginning their testimony, as commanded, with the Pope.  All ritual and doctrinal developments have been effected by the ‘utterance,’ which has dominated its adherents as the voice of God.  The selection of ministers is thus described by an eye-witness:- “The Prophet comes down from the platform, and calls them to the different offices, either to serve in that church or in any other, in this or in any foreign lands; this takes place at different times in the course of the service, with a voice so loud that it pierces the ear of every one that is present; and I have seen them so excited by the violence of the speaker, that any one would have thought they were struck with death  An Address to Irvingites, p. 22; by James Crabb, London, 1836.

 

5. Circular Letter.  “Have mercy,” runs a prayer of the Liturgy, “upon all who are oppressed and invaded of the devil, or who have fallen under the possession of evil spirits

 

6. “Let all who are teachable and open to conviction,” says a member (Some Popular Objections Considered, p. 15; London, 1876), “inspect it and inquire for themselves what God is doing

 

7. The Apostles thought it possible for believers to be deceived by a false spirit.  2 Thess. 2. So also the Holy Ghost is careful to guard us against credulity.  After the clearest possible revelation of spirit-intercourse as the spring and inspiration of the coming apostasy, all “profane and old wives’ fables” (1 Tim. 4: 5) - ghost stories, ‘mahatmas,’ raisings from the dead by Father Ignatius or in the Tongues Movement, the fabulous ‘emanitions’ of the Gnostics: all allegations insufficiently evidenced or inherently grotesque - are (He warns us) to be mentally dismissed, springing, as they do, from fatuous superstition or garrulous age.

 

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APPEARANCE OF SUPERNATURAL GIFTS

 

 

Europe, convulsed by strange throes and grim struggle of nations, strayed, a hundred years ago, in paths of night-shade, and nursed in her bosom a liberty without temperance, an equality without redemption, and a brotherhood without Christ.  Strange and pathetic yearnings found violent outlet in the attempt to right wrong by wrong, and redress a cruel oppression by anarchy.  Reverence, and faith, and belief in God and the soul, were trampled underfoot on the Boulevards; and on the background of evil and impossible dreams, and the anarchic millennium of the unbeliever, rose Napoleon, a forecast of the pitiless and gigantic Figure whose shadow darkens all the prophets.  Unbelief had borne its appropriate fruit.  This rocking chaos of events challenged the attention of a little knot of believers to the prophetic scriptures and early gifts of inspiration and miracle.  Prayer was poured out for a return of miraculous powers.1 Suddenly [Page 12] utterance in unknown tongues.2  It was not, as in apostolic times, an outpouring on a body of assembled believers;3 nor spiritual power imparted to individuals by the hands of an apostle,4 or of a commissioned disciple;5 but a possession - and so powerful as to compel utterance.6 Men rose, in aisle and gallery, to ejaculate, in abrupt and appalling accents, warnings and prophecies claiming to be inspired of God. “There was indeed,” says one who heard it, “in the strange unearthly sound, and extraordinary power of voice, enough to appal the heart of the most stout-hearted.7 “There is a power in the voice,” said Mr. Irving, “to thrill the heart and over-awe the spirit after a manner which I have never felt.  There is a march, and a majesty, and a sustained grandeur in the voice, especially of those who prophesy8 Says another ear-witness: “It burst forth from the former with an astonishing and terrible crash.  The word crash is descriptive of his voice, not only by its meaning, but by its sound; and without intending to say there was a monotony in all its utterance, I think the reader may form some idea [Page 13] of the sound with which the tongue was delivered by him, if Cras-cran-cra-crash were uttered with the sudden and rapid vociferation9 On Archdeacon Stopford it produced one of the most permanent impressions of his life.  He heard it again on the bed of hysteria, and in the religious revivals in Belfast.10 Able psychologists consider it to have been a genuine automatic expression,11 and report a closely similar gift.  “Suddenly an entirely new and strange osycho-automatic force shook through me like a gust of fierce wind through a tree.  My mouth made automatic movements; till, in a few seconds, I was distinctly conscious of another’s voice – unearthly, awful, loud, and weird - bursting through the woodland from my own lips, with the despairing words, ‘Oh! My People!’  Mutterings of semi-purposive prophecy followed.  One of the clairvoyants added additional weirdness to the experience by positively affirming that phantasms of ancient Egyptian sages stood over me12 The appearance of the ‘gifted’ was no less remarkable.  “Her whole frame was in violent agitation, [Page 14] but principally the body, from the hips to the shoulders, which worked with a lateral motion - the chest heaved and swelled - the head was occasionally raised from the right hand, which was placed under the forehead.  She was but a few seconds in this state, when the body strayed, the neck became stiff, and the head erect; the hands fell on the lap, the mouth assumed a circular form, the lips projected, and the ‘tongue’ and English came from her in an awful tone13 “Most of them,” says another eye-witness, “before giving utterance to the spirit, exhibited dreadful contortions, not only of features, but of their whole body, and appeared as if they were suffering the most cruel tortures14 The contents of the speech, composed of abrupt ejaculations frequently repeated, dealt chiefly with the advent of Christ and final judgment.  “Jesus! O Jesus! Jesus, Son of Mary!  Jesus in our nature!  Time is short!  Oh, it is short!  The day draweth near, the sound of abundance of rain.  Confess Jesus now!  See Him coming in the glory of the Father, and of all the holy angels15  Such ecstatic speech, two centuries earlier, had burst from the lips of the Freach Prophets.  “Mes freres, amendez-vous, faites peniteace, la fin du monde approche; le jugement [Page 15] general sera dans trios mois; repentez-vous du grand peche que vous avez commis d’aller a la messe; c’est le Saint-Esprit qui parle par ma bouche16 Speakers ‘in the power’ were thrilled with emotion.  “I am more conscious than ever,” says one ‘gifted,’ “of the presence of God17  Another experienced “great joy and freedom in prayer - and, seemingly, great nearness of communion with God, in the midst of the workings of the power18 We must conclude, with Mr. Baden Powell, that “at the time the matter was closely scrutinised and inquired into; and many perfectly unprejudiced and even sceptical persons themselves witnessed the effects and were fully convinced - as indeed were most candid inquirers at the time - that after reasonable or possible allowance for the influence of delusion or imposture, beyond all question certain extraordinary manifestations did occur19

 

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1. E. Miller’s History and Doctrines of Irvingism, vol. i. p. 46; London, 1878.

 

2. Its actual source was a Mary Campbell, living near Glasgow, from whom, when visited by a deputation of prophetic students from Albury, several received the ‘tongue,’ and transmitted it to London.  Thomas Erskine says:- “I have expressed my conviction that the remarkable manifestations which I witnessed in the West of Scotland eight years ago were the miraculous gifts of the Spirit; but I do not now believe that they were so

 

3. Acts 2: 1-4, 10: 44-46.

 

4. Acts 8: 18, 19: 6.

 

5. Acts 9: 17.

 

6. Mr. Irving admitted (Fraser’s Magazine, Jan., 1832) that this was inconsistent with 1 Cor. 14: 32 - “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets  Enforced utterance has frequently accompanied false prophecy.  For the time and occasion of the Christian prophetic gift the prophet was responsible; but for the contents, the Spirit of prophecy. 1 Cor. 12., 14.

 

7. The Unknown Tongues, p. 6; by an Earnest Contender for the Faith, London, 6th. ed., 1832.  The first outbreak was an unknown ‘tongue’ in the girl (Mary Campbell) living near Glasgow.  The Scottish utterances, from which the English emanated, were submitted to Drs. Pusey and Lee, professors of Hebrew at Oxford and Cambridge; but were unrecognizable as any known language.

 

8. Fraser’s Magazine, March, 1832.

 

9.The Unknown Tongues, p.5

 

10. Work and Counterwork, p. 11.  Dr. Carson, Junr. (Plymouth Heresies, pp. 314, 343, 359), himself heard this “unearthly tone” – the  nec mortale sonans of the Oracles - in the Irish revivals; and those ‘prostrated’ saw visions, and prophesied, sometimes falsely.  A credible and Christian informant - the godliest black woman I have ever known - tells me of the hold obtained over her in the Jamaica revivals of 1860 and 1883 by an evil spirit, through whose power she did things supernormal, and who was eventually expelled over by prayer.  Her reception of the ‘gift’ is extraordinarily significant.  Sitting alone, a total stranger, on the last bench in a meeting where supernatural ‘revival’ phenomena were being described, she had no sooner said mentally - “I wish I had that spirit!” than she was on the floor, convulsed.  Mentally neutrality is vital.

 

11. Phantoms of the Living, p. 47.  “I was surprised,” says one of the Camisards, “with a shivering all over me, and my tongue and lips were of a sudden forced to pronounce words with vehemence that I was myself amazed to hear

 

12. Proceedings of Society for Phychical Research, vol. 12., p. 280.  A chance visitor to Mr. Irving’s church reports having seen a luminous phantasm swaying with extended arms immediately behind the preacher.  A friend who accompanied him also saw it.  Morning Watch, vol. 5., p. 421.

 

13. The Unknown Tongues Discovered, p. 17; by E. Pilkington, London, 1831.

 

14. Narrative, p. 129; by H. J. Marks, 2nd. ed., London, 1840.  So with the first Quakers.  A minister of the gospel, who both saw and felt the Quakers,’ says:- “After I had done praying (not opening my eyes before), I was amazed to see about the one half of these miserable creatures so terribly shaken, with such strange, violent, various motions, that I wondered how it was possible some of them could live; some howling, some screeching, yelling, roaring; and some had a strange confused kind of humming, singing noise(Stablishing Against Shaking, p. 55; by Pastor Giles Firmin, London, 1656.)  So a contemporary says of Montanus:- “Having been suddenly seized with a sort of rapture and immoderate ecstasy, he was violently moved by the spirit, and began to utter unintelligible sounds

 

15. Restoration of Apostles and Prophets, p. 19; by Rev. Dr. Norton, London, 1861.  It could be perfectly evangelical.  “Believe ye – believe ye the Lamb of God!  Oh, He was slain – He was slain, and He hath redeemed you – He hath remembered you – He hath redeemed you with His blood!  Oh, rejoice in the love of Jesus – in the love of JesusMiller’s Irvingism, vol. i., p. 94.

 

16. Encyclopaedia Britannica.

 

17. Fraser’s Magazine, March, 1832.

 

18. Narrative of Facts, p. 22; by Robert Baxter, London, 1833.

 

19. Recent Inquiries in Theology, p. 123.

 

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THE APPLICATION OF DIVINE TESTS

 

 

The immunity of the church, now for long periods of time, from the open assaults of demonism, or the subtle inroads of seducing prophets, has tended to obscure those definite touchstones, chiefly doctrinal, to which supernatural utterance can be infallibly brought, and without which Christ’s flock would be exposed to the ravages of scarcely disguised wolves.  We are given tests for a spirit, - that Jesus the Christ has come in flesh (1 John 4: 1-3), and will again so come (2 John 7); also, a test for the prophet; - that, while energised by the external power, and thus speaking supernaturally, he can, or cannot, say “Jesus anathema,” or “Jesus is Lord” (1 Cor. 12: 3);1 and, in addition to [Page 16] these, the inspired 2 can be put to proof by analysis of their works (Matt. 7: 15-20) and doctrines (Gal. 1: 8), which determine whether they speak on behalf of God, or of Satan. 3 Mr. Irving, himself ungifted, and therefore, like all ungifted with the discernment of spirits, unable to discriminate infallibility, 4 was persuaded at the outset to accept the new gifts as divine; and that the tests he professed to apply, whether their exact nature, 5 were without effect, is proved by the mutual anathemas of ‘gifted’ persons after he had judged them inspired of God.  But a certain anonymous writer speaks of a discrimination definite and scriptural; the tests in 1 John 4: 2, 3, and 1 Cor. 12: 3, he says, “have been brought to bear on the cases in question by opponents, as well as by friends, in public and in private, in every form of application, and under every variety of circumstance; and the present manifestations have stood these Scriptural tests6 To an unprejudiced inquirer, anxious to learn the truth and [Page 17] conscious not only of the futility, but of the sin, that would withstand the finger of God once seen in undoubted operation, this statement must appear to give importance.  Yet opposing facts equally grave at once confront us.  The frequency of unweighed and careless assertion, though accompanied by no wish to deceive, compels us to take notice of a wider field of fact: the more so, as the issues dependant on our inquiry are spiritual in their nature, and momentous in their importance.  (1) The Apostle John’s test (1 John 4.) - to which only, or chiefly, other defenders of the ‘utterance’ refer - was confessedly not applied in its usual sense; since this author himself defines it as an appearance “in real and true flesh of our flesh, of the fallen virgin, not the unfallen Adam7  To put the question, even though only my mental reservation, - “Did Jesus Christ come in sinful flesh?” is no test at all; or rather, if put with the approval of the visiting spirit, and answered in the affirmative, it is an instant exposure.  But, further, (2) divine inspiration presents harmony and consistency, is penetrated with a surpassing sweetness, moves with dignity and power, is wise and accurate, and untroubled by the thousand discrediting incidents that attend demonic utterance, or the frothy speech of unprophesying prophets.  Such was not the character of the new utterance.  Noisy and terrifying, it was not cast in the massive mould, nor vital with the rich suggestiveness, of the prophetic scriptures.  “It consisted,” says Dr. Goode, an ear-witness, “of a few sentences of exhortation to repentance, repeated over and over again, with a poverty of expression and a paucity of ideas, which I was quite astonished to find in [Page 18] connection with so much of enthusiastic excitement8 (3) The Scriptures were not always read accurately by ‘gifted’ persons ‘in the power  “My ear was struck,” says Mr. Mc Neile, “by deviations from the authorised version.  I had a Greek Testament in my hand, and perceived, at a glance, that the deviations were palpably incorrect.  One of them was the omission of an important word, to the utter marring of the sentence9 (4) Moreover, defections occurred among the ‘gifted’ themselves; defections not as of Judas, but of men who are revealed by their narratives as straightforward and honest, and who had been in close and vital connection with the new movement.  Mr. Baxter, whose Narrative of Facts 10 is conspicuous for its candour, is, perhaps, the best known; but [Page 19] others, including an ‘apostle11 withdrew.  A system is not proved to be in error by the withdrawal of disciples; but it is possible, or have we precedent to suppose, that men divinely gifted with inspiration and miracle can withdraw finally from God’s work, and even judge it demonic? (5) Nor were the ‘prophets’ unanimous in the call of the ‘apostles  “The MacDonald’s in Scotland - men eminent among the ‘gifted’ persons for holiness of life - never acknowledged the call, nor would they ever receive them in that capacity12 (6) The power that spoke through the ‘prophets’ was devoid of discernment.  An impostor, professedly anxious for miraculous gifts, was received, and called by the ‘utterance’ to be “an angel and mighty prophet”; but a deputation, sent to his church in the United States, discovered it was non-existent, and he disappeared. (7) But, most of all significant, the ‘utterance,’ unaccompanied by systematic gifts of healing and miracle, was at strife with itself, 13 and got involved in contradictions.  The ‘prophet’ by whom chiefly the ‘apostles’ were called once confessed to having spoken by an evil spirit; he was also once pronounced by the ‘prophetess’ never to have been inspired by God: yet he was retained in his rank as an acknowledged prophet.  A ‘prophetess,’ singled out [Page 20] by the ‘utterance’ as inspired by God, was declared later by the ‘utterance’ itself unpossessed of gift at all.  So full of contradiction and corruption did the ‘utterance’ become, that the ‘prophets’ were subordinated to the ‘apostles,’ who thus over-rode the ‘Voice of God  “The apostles cancelled a large group of prophecies, and silenced the very men by whose utterances they as apostles had been called into existence14 The most eager student of Irvingite gifts must be perplexed, and, if he be an adherent, disheartened, by a survey of this medley of lapsed prophecies, mutual suspicions, and inaccurate presentment of facts.

 

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1. But it must be the express statement that Jesus is Lord.  “I was seized,” said one of the Camisards, “with violent convulsions; and in this fit I repeated often the words, Lord Jesus, so loud that I was heard all over the house.  But upon my first vigorous resistance of this officious spirit, I never after found myself assaulted  Dean Goode’s Gifts of the Spirit, p. 195.

 

2. “With confidence I reassert this translation.  It has three clear grounds of superiority. (1) On the view I suppose, the Apostle’s language is definite; no mine, it is exact. (2) This is the sense it bears in 1 Cor. 14: 37:- ‘if any may think himself to be a prophet or inspired.’ (3) The sense given on the other theory is untrue.  As they repeat the Creed, thousands of the unconverted affirm that Jesus is Lord” (Govett).

 

3. These texts are in advance on those given through the Law (Deut. 13: 1-3) and the Prophets (Jer. 28: 9).

 

4. Neither Irvingite ‘angel’ nor ‘prophet,’ as a matter of fact, is able to discern the character of spirits.  An ‘angel’ was rebuked by an ‘apostle’ for failure to silence evil spirits in the church: yet Mr. Irving, when a fully constituted ‘angel,’ was rebuked by the utterance of a ‘prophet’ for attempting to so discern.  To claim the gift of discernment before the entire supernatural movement that confers it has itself been searchingly tested on independent grounds, and by Divine tests, is childish, and merely plays into the hands of deceptive powers.

 

5. See Baxter’s Narrative, pp. 129-133; Pilkington’s Unknown Tongues, pp. 25-26; and Mrs. Oliphant’s Life of Edward Irving, vol. 2., pp. 212, 485, etc.

 

6. A Word of Inquiry, p. 23; by One of the Congregation, London, 1832.  Another writer (A Word for Inquiry, p. 9) speaks of “solemn and varied cautions, warnings, expostulations, and even denunciations, respecting the folly, the wickedness, and the danger of deception

 

7. A Word of Inquiry, p. 35.  “Now,” says the Morning Watch (vol. 4., p. 376), “if the supernatural voice affirms, and bears witness to, the essential Godhead of Jesus of Nazareth; to Him as the sole source of power, authority, and rule on this earth; to the Christ having taken the fallen flesh of the Virgin Mary into personal subsistence with Deity; and to His coming in that flesh again; that supernatural voice is God the Holy Ghost Himself speaking.  Now all these points we have heard the voices proceeding from divers persons affirm(My italics.) Does this not also invalidate 2 John 7?

 

8. Modern Claims to the Gifts of the Spirit, p. 14.  “I have heard some thousand so-called prophetic utterances, but (with two exceptions) they have contained nothing beyond the ability of any ordinary man to speak.  They were largely composed of quotations from Scripture, and all else they contained had been better expressed from the pulpit  My Reasons for Retiring from the Catholic Apostolic Church, by H. M. Prior, 1873.

 

9. Letters to a Friend, p. 113; by Hugh Mc Neile, London, 1834.

 

10. For its self-analysis, first-hand evidence, and Christian spirit, the Narrative is probably the most important work on Irvingism issued during the lifetime of Mr. Irving.  A later important booklet is The Catholic Apostle Church by a minister of fifteen years’ standing in the body, who was closely acquainted with its organisation and principles and in official contact with its highest officers.  Both are sober and searching indictments.  Of importance also are Letters to a Friend, by the Rev. Hugh McNeile, rector of Albury, where for two years the ‘apostles’ were assembled; Modern Claims to Gifts of the Spirit, by Dr. Goode, Dean of Ripon; and the History and Doctrines of Irvingism, by the Rev. Edward Miller, a careful and thoroughly informed narrative.  Perhaps Mr. Sitwell’s volume, The Purpose of God in Creation and Redemption (2nd. ed., Edinburgh, 1886), best presents both incident and doctrine from the standpoint of Mr. Irving’s successors.

 

11. This ‘apostle’ seceded after the failure of the twelve in their gigantic attempt to convert Europe, on the ground that absence of miraculous powers made invalid the apostolic claim.  Yet the ‘utterance’ had declared that without the ‘twelve-fold unity,’ apostolic decisions were invalid.  See Miller’s Irvingism, vol. i., p. 217.  These ‘apostleshaving never seen the Lord (1 Cor. 9: 1), were not Apostles, but simply men so designated by a voice from the unseen never to this day identified.

 

12. The Catholic Apostolic Church, p. 3.  Their letters rejecting the ‘apostles’ will be found in Memoirs of J. and G. Macdonald, p. 215; by Dr. R. Norton, London, 1840.  The ‘utterance’ itself came solely from Mary Campbell and the Macdonalds.

 

13.  It was so with the French Prophets.  One of themselves, when disillusioned, wrote: “We may see, and all the world may be satisfied, that these mew prophets are not from God, by their contradicting one another in ecstasies by turns; in which, also, they upbraid and condemn one another as false and self-exalting  The Falsehood of the New Prophets Manifested, p. 18; by H. Nicholson, London, 1708.

 

14. Miller’s Irvingism, vol. i., p. 215.

 

 

THE EXPERIENCES OF MR. BAXTER

 

 

In Mr. Baxter’s Narrative, recognised by all as an important criticism even if the inaccuracies alleged by his critics be admitted, we possess a first-hand, experimental testimony from an able, shrewd, and devout critic, possessed of a friendship for Mr. Irving which is not the least ouching episode on the pathetic drama of the great preacher’s life.  Slowly, but effectually, the sundering power of conviction drove him apart from the little knot of disciples that listened to the new utterance as the voice of God.  He had felt that others only applauded or condemned.  At his own fireside,1 if we are to believe him, the influence - sudden, fitful, unintelligible - wrought upon him with a power beyond automatic, or the mere impulse of spiritual agitation.  Words, then sentences, and lastly harangues, issued from his passive tongue.  He could restrain the impulse, but painfully.2  When no words were suggested to his mind, utterance was a harsh and discordant jargon.  Excitement there was at times, but [Page 21] always the consciousness of a power beyond the excitement.3 “While my mind was perfectly calm and composed, my whole body was convulsively agitated4. Words were spoken, not only without forethought, but sometimes contrary to his intention.5 Answers in one room were given by a ‘gifted’ person to prayers offered in another.6 But Mr. Baxter, at first convinced of his divine inspiration, viewed with alarm incidents that suggested another interpretation.  The ‘utterances’ shunned publicity and examination, and were visibly weakened, and sometimes silenced, by the presence of sceptics.7 Directions were given that ‘utterances’ should not be recorded.8 Absolute submission to them was taught, even though they should appear to contradict the Scriptures.  They were bitter and [Page 22] hasty in denunciation.9 Prophecies were profuse, but rarely fulfilled.  A day was named for pentecostal effusion of power.  The day arrived, and with a command - “Kneel down, and receive the baptism of fire”; but, kneel and pray as they might, nothing ensued.10 It was definitely predicted, and preached in the public streets by over fifty evangelists,11 that Christ would return in twelve hundred and sixty days.  The ‘utterance’ said that the Trinitarian Bible Society made a proselyte twofold more a child of hell than before.12 A discussion arose among a few on the mystery of iniquity, and Mr. Baxter prayed that God would open their eyes to see it, when he was suddenly impelled, without intention or expectancy, to assert emphatically [Page 23] that this mystery of iniquity was then powerfully at work in that very assembly.13 Mr. Baxter saw that Mr. Irving preached the fallen humanity of Christ unrebuked.  He fell back on the conjecture that the spiritual agency was mixed, and that, as Mr. Irving contended, a prophet might be inspired by God and Satan alternately.14 But the ‘gifted’ were sometimes inspired simultaneously.15 The ‘prophets,’ including himself, had announced ‘in power’ that God would never suffer them to be energised to utterance by Satan.16 Mr. Baxter grew convinced, with pain and reluctance, that the gifts could not spring from two [Page 24] sources.  He reviewed the failures in prophecy, the contradictions, the mutual anathemas, the unscriptural doctrines: he remonstrated with Mr. Irving, and left his church.  But the invading power was not easily shaken off.  “Long after I gave up the work as [Satanic] delusion,” he says, “the power so continued with me that I was obliged to resist it continually.  When in prayer the power would come and carry out my utterance in power, and I was obliged to stop to resist it17 After the lapse of four years, judging, as he remarks, on ample evidence, and without the excitement in which he one participated, Mr. Baxter says: “The work is not the mere effort of enthusiasm, produced by natural causes, and excited to its highest pitch, but it is a manifest power of the spirit of delusion18 Mr. Irving speaks of Mr. Baxter as “a dear friend of my own who lately spoke by the spirit of God in my church - as all the spiritual of the church fully acknowledged, and almost all acknowledge still19.

 

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1. “All of those who profess this new inspiration,” says a contemporary of the Camisards, “say that their agitations constantly accompany their private devotions

 

2. Narrative of Facts, p. 5

 

3. Ibid, p. 5

 

4. Ibid, p. 148.

 

5. Ibid, p. 19.  A similar experience attended the French Prophets.  “I here declare solemnly,” says one of them, “without any equivocation whatsoever, by this public act, upon the oath I make of it before God, that I am in no wise the farmer of whose bodily agitations I suffer in my ecstasies; I do not move my own self, but am moved by a power independent that overrules me; and for the words that proceed from my mouth, I protest with the same awful solemnity, they are formed without my intention, and glide forth of my lips without my direction, my mind bearing no ways any part in that marvellous operation by preceding forethought, or any intending will to deliver what I do at that instant  See A Cry from the Desert, pp. 37-44; 2nd., ed., London, 1709.

 

6. So among the Camisard Prophets, who, in Languedoc and Cevennes alone, numbered more than eight thousand, ‘it was common with the inspired” - says a contemporary - “to discover the thoughts of others, and to reveal many things which they could not be acquainted with in a natural way

 

7. Narrative of Facts, p. 48.  This paralysis in the presence of a sceptic often occurs in the Spiritual s้ance.  The avoidance of scrutiny is a damaging fact, and has characterised the organisation from the first.  “Every kind of investigation and discussion,” says an ex-member, “is discouraged; and nothing is allowed by the governing powers to be printed, except permissu superiorum  The Catholic Apostolic Church, p. 4.

 

8. Ibid, p. 126.  In later years, an official reports the ‘prophetic’ speech, as the ‘prophets’ are impelled to utterance during the services; but, together with ‘apostolic’ epistles, etc., these records are strictly reserved for Irvingite perusal.

 

9. Ibid. p. 128.  “Contemn opposition!” was an early reply of the ‘utterance’ (Pinkington’s Unknown Tongues, pp. 19, 27).  Arguments are always useless in supernatural movements for those already convinced; for, however irresistible, they are at once put aside, by a reference to what is assumed to be the Voice of God.  “In vain,” says Mr. McNeile (Letters to a Friend, p. 114), “I inquired for proof, that the voice, to which such implicit defence was paid, is the voice of God.  The demand for evidence was indeed denounced with awful severity, as carnal, as tempting God, as fighting against the Spirit  “Another characteristic,” says Mr. Baxter, “is the bitterness of denunciation and hastiness of spirit found in the manifestations of the power” (Narrative, p. 127).  “But the fruit of THE SPIRIT is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, temperance” (Gal. 5: 22).  The heavenly wisdom is meek.  “But of ye have bitter jealously and faction in your heart, glory not and lie not against the truth.  This wisdom is not a wisdom that cometh down from above, but is earthly, sensual, DEMONIC” (Jas. 3: 15).  “This arrogant spirit,” says a contemporary author (see Eusebius, History, book v.), “taught them [the followers of Montanus] to revile the whole and every particular church, because this spirit of false prophecy received no honour or countenance from it

 

10. Narrative of Facts, p. 90.

 

11. Irvingism, p. 22.  An Old Testament cause shows how offensive to God is false prophecy in His name.  Hananiah suffered death for this sin.  Jer. 28.  Forty-three prophecies of Mr. Baxter, says the Church’s Broken Unity (p. 253) where signally unfulfilled.  So of one of the chief prophetesses of Montanism a contemporary says:- “More than thirteen years have now elapsed since that woman died, who predicted wars and tumults near at hand; and there has been no war in the whole world

 

12. Narrative of Facts, p. 34.

 

13. Ibid, p. 36.

 

14. See Irvingism, in its Rise, Progress, and Present State, pp. 37-39 (by Robert Baxter, London, 1836), and Miller’s History, vol. 1., pp. 143, 212.  Several arguments used in favour of the ‘prophets’ are not supported by Scripture.  Evil spirits can, for their own purposes, preach the truth (Acts 16: 16); a demon, and much more the prince of demons, can assume a close imitation of goodness (Matt. 7: 15, Rev. 2: 2).  Facts in these pages will, I think, be found to modify or rebut the contentions of Mr. Irving before the Presbytery, when he argued (1) that a prophet does not know the manner and circumstances of a prophecy’s fulfilment (Jer. 20: 7), nor (2) always understand it himself (1 Pet. 1: 10-12); (3) that he may be used to deceive God’s people (Ezek. 14: 8-11). And (4) may speak also of Satan (Jer. 15: 19); (5) that demonism is necessarily violent, and (6) known by its fruits (Matt. 7: 15-20), and (7) was actually revealed in some cases by the tests (1 John 4: 1-3, 1 Cor. 12: 3); and (8) that Satan does not eject Satan.  See Life, vol. ii. pp. 474-486.

 

15. God’s prophetesses exercise the gift privately, and are silent in the assembly (1 Cor. 14: 34); the contrary conduct is a sign of false prophecy (Rev. 2: 20).  The Tongues Movement in China declared itself different from the gifts in Corinth, and therefore “all are free to exercise tongues as often as they like, and for any length of time, no interpreter being necessary, and all may speak at once if they desire  The Life of Faith, June 10, 1908.  This is the revelation of a demon: “if any man thinketh himself to be a prophet or inspired, let him acknowledge that these are the COMMANDMENTS OF THE LORD” (1 Cor. 14: 37).  It is curious that the ‘prophetesses’ were afterwards suppressed.  “By a command we were ordained through the apostle to be no longer obedient to any word coming through the handmaids  Miller’s Irvingism, vol. i., p. 143.

 

16. Narrative of Facts, p. 116.

 

17. Ibid, p. 145.  Mr. Baxter had been a ‘prophet’ for several months.  Says another of the ‘gifted’: “I renounced the doctrine [of the fallen flesh] a few months after, but a deliverance from a belief that this visitation was of God has only now taken place, more than two years after, and that by the most unexpected meansLetter to the Gifted Persons, p. 14.

 

18. Irvingism, p. 33.

 

19. Life, vol. ii. p. 474.  (My italics.)  This honest, but damaging, view of Mr. Baxter’s inspiration, is endorced by the able Irvingite author of a Letter (p. 19; London, 1856) written in reply to articles in The Old Church Porch.  “While therefore I believe Mr. Baxter received a great gift from God, and in the exercise of it spoke many true words from the Holy Ghost - I strongly incline to believe that he also spoke many things out of his own heart  Here is a proof that the evidence that Mr. Baxter and the ‘prophets’ spoke by the same spirit is too strong to be gainsaid: yet how could it have been the Holy Ghost?  This Letter, in the judgment of an ‘apostle’ (Mr. Sitwell, Creation and Redemption, p. 169), is the best reply to Mr. Baxter ever issued.  The Morning Watch admitted (vol. vii., p. 203) Mr. Baxter’s honesty and sincerity, and can scarcely be said, by an impartial observer, to have attempted to refute his facts; and it is admitted (p. 204) that the spirit in him was the spirit in the other ‘gifted’ persons.  A later review (vol. vii., p. 391) of the Narrative, distinguished by its violence, impugned Mr. Baxter’s accuracy, but relied mainly for his refutation on Mr. Douglas’s The Spirit in Mr. Baxter Tried by Scripture.  A copy of the latter work I have not been able to obtain.  Nothing short of imperative need could lead a critic to asperse Mr. Baxter’s honesty or ability; but even if, as with many adherents of the ‘utterance,’ his testimony be bitterly impugned, other narratives, hardly less informed and energetic, corroborate it.  Failure to meet and disprove seriatim the facts alleged by such writers is a grave weakness in ‘Catholic Apostolic’ evidences; the more so, as these are not scurrilous attacks, but fatal flaws in the inspiration advanced by men of known weight and probity; and on the nature of the inspiration all that is peculiar in Irvingism critically turns.

 

[Page 25]

DECEPTIVE GIFTS

 

 

All the signs and wonders of apostolic power the ‘utterance’ promised:1 ninety years, lavish in promises and hopes, have been spent in abundant ‘prophecies,’ and an active propaganda:- has the Church been subdued by very stress of miracle, and has God sealed the work as His?  (1) The promise of apostolic powers was never fulfilled: the Spirit has never been ministered: 2 every ‘apostle’ is dead: absolutely no miracles, beyond such as are known to the s้ance, have ratified, with Divine approval, the lofty apostolic claim.  (2) The ‘utterance’ has revolutionised the ritual of a church once Presbyterian, and brought it to the threshold of Rome.  ‘Altars’ entered in 1838; Reservation of the Sacrament, taught “by the light of prophecy,” followed in 1850; unleavened wafers came “through a tongue”; Holy Water was introduced “by the words of the Prophets”; and ultimately formal application was made for entry into Roman Communion:- “these general principles had been declared by the voice of prophecy3 Says a ‘Catholic Apostle’ minister: “The Mass is the very centre and culminating point in [Page 26] Roman idolatry; and the new apostles, with very slight modification, have reproduced it all4 (3) The presence of some unclean spirits an ‘apostle’ himself admits.  “Evil spirits infested the churches to bring the work into discredit by spiritual wickedness.  In some instances they crept in among the sons of God, but, as a proof of the presence of God among us, they were discerned and cast out.”5 But such exorcism is inconclusive.  An Oxford clergyman, himself once ‘gifted,’ writes: “To see how Satan has seemed to detect himself, and to fight against himself, as if to cast himself out; and what wrath he has shown, and what fearful power put forth against some whom we had detected as having [Page 27] unclean spirits, is most wonderful6 (4) A startling proof of false utterance lies in the collapse of prophecies.  Mr. Baxter wrote to an ‘apostle’: “This [a promised fall of the Spirit on the assembled ‘apostles’], my dear brother, you know was declared, was believed, and was waited for; it was not alone by my utterance, but by the utterance of every one who spoke; it was not alone when I was with you, but long after I left you, declared to be the truth”;7 but no fall of the Spirit occurred.  It was repeatedly announced that Mr. McNeile would join their ranks.  “On one occasion,” Mr. McNeile says, “a prophecy to this effect was addressed to me personally, with all the pomp and power of manner and voice, by Mr. Baxter, when in the plenitude of his own assurance, and of their confidence in him, as peculiarly and highly gifted8 Mr. NcNeile died [Page 28] Dean of Ripon.  Serious blunders of this kind are not to be rolled out of the path by assertion of evil agency mixing with the work; by aspersion on the testimonies of such men as Dr. Goode, Mr. McNeile, and Mr. Baxter, all actual witness of the facts they attest; or by that which, I have learned with regret, is far too popular a weapon with Mr. Irving’s successors - silence.  Other failures,9 as absolute, have gone far towards discrediting ‘Catholic Apostolic’ prophecy in the eyes of inquirers, and have shaken the faith of large numbers who have abandoned the sect.  (5) The doctrine of our Lord’s fallen flesh, preached both in Scotland and London before the appearance of the gifts, and closely associated with the gifts by the principal preachers of the sect, is obviously a doctrine of cardinal importance, which entered into, and has remained in, the fibre of Irvingism.  Mr. Irving’s attitude is seen in such sentences as this: “The Son of God, though generated a very man of flesh of sin, was still God, of God’s substance notwithstanding10 He also speaks of appetites, ambitions, and spiritual darkenings in the mind of Christ.11  The ‘utterance’ upheld the doctrine.  “Words of prophecy have been spoken [by the ‘utterance’] often and often, testifying to the real humanity of Jesus; declaring that the nature He assumed was that of the common flesh of man, which is one, and indivisible12 The Liturgy speaks of our Lord as “born in the truth of our flesh, very Man, in all things like unto us”:13 a statement which, in itself true, as at [Page 29] least unguarded, and, in an Irvingite context, suspicious.  A member writes: “It was no fiction - no make believe - that He bore our sins in His own body on the tree.  They were the sins of His own flesh, inasmuch as all human flesh is one14 Even this awful teaching is scarcely stronger than certain statements of Mr. Irving. 15 It is manifestly false.  Unfallen Adam was as human as Cain.  “That holy thing” (Luke 1: 35), begotten of the Holy Ghost, was, through all time, last as first, the Holy One (Acts 3: 14).  Even Satanic scrutiny could detect no sin, hereditary or committed, in Him (John 14: 30); and only so could God’s Holy One not see corruption (Acts 2: 27-31) 16 This doctrine is cardinal to our inquiry.  Miracle cannot come from God which supports falsehood.  Doctrine justifies, or refutes, miracle, no less than miracle, doctrine. 17 Was [Page 30] not the ‘utterance’ suffered by God as a result of teaching so radically corrupt?  “I now took hold,” says one of the ‘gifted’ speaking of the doctrine of the fallen flesh, “of a ‘false Christ,’ and was soon after visited by one of the seducing spirits, of which there are so many abroad18

 

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1. Irvingism, p. 18.

 

2. It is alleged that some became ‘gifted’ through the laid-on hands of an ‘apostle’; but in the church of the Scriptures all so touched spoke with tongues and prophesied (Acts 19: 6).  Irvingism lays claim to two gifts, tongues and prophecy: it has failed to reproduce, from among Paul’s nine (1 Cor. 12: 8-10), ‘gifts of healings,’ ‘workings of miracles.’ ‘interpretation of tongues’ - to reproduce them so indubitably that men should exclaim, “God is among you indeed” (1 Cor. 14: 25).  Its reproduction has been a shadow.

 

3. Miller’s History, vol. i., pp. 123, 230, 257, 302.

 

4. The Catholic Apostolic Church, p. 73.  “One morning, when [apostles] were in a church in Rouen, they saw a priest come in duly habited for early mass.  Upon this the prophet of the party cried out, ‘These are the vestments the Lord would have for His service  Miller’s History, vol. i. p. 198.  Characteristically and viciously ecclesiastical, also, was the ‘sealing,’ by apostles alone, of all who are to escape the Great Tribulation; “a grossly irreverent idea,” as Mr. Miller observes, “which makes acceptance by a few men a passport through that dreadful time, and the title to precedence in the Kingdom of Heaven, instead of the degree of devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ and to God, as evidenced by holiness of life  Two ‘apostles’ never ‘sealed’ at all; not a tithe of the 144,000 (wrongly supposed to be the number who will escape) ever had apostolic hands laid on them at all; none could be ‘sealed’ under twenty years of age; and all the ‘apostles’ are dead, and the ‘sealed’ - yet no Great Tribulation has yet ever begun.  Deeply sinister is the light this sheds upon baptismal regeneration, a cognate lie: it is in Hell that all ritual regeneration and sanctification has its origin; and all who depend on baptism for life will find it as effective as the Irvingite has found the ‘sealing

 

5. Original Constitution of the Church, p. 129: by Presbyter [Rev. J. Hodges], London, 1864.  The narrative (1851) quoted by Mr. Hodges, together with Mr. Sitwell’s Creation and Redemption, present, perhaps, the best view of the incidents as seen from within the circle of ‘apostles  “Evil Spirits,” says Dr. Norton (Restoration of Apostles, p. 72; London, 1861). “came among us, imitating the voice of the Comforter; sometimes at once detected, sometimes for a while deceiving every one  (My italics.)  Mr. Irvine expressed his belief to the Presbytery that Satan has the power to imitate the voice of the Spirit - from which, perhaps, we may infer that he thought that he had heard both.

 

6. Narrative of Facts, 2nd ed., p. 44. Mr Shillingford, once a member on Newman Street, writes: “To stand by her [a prophetess] was like being near a nest of serpents, as the hissing she made while under those paroxysms exactly resembled the description given of those reptilesThe Errors of Irvingism, p. 8; 2nd ed., London, 1836.

 

7. Irvingism, p. 44.  It argues so low a grade of intelligence in demon powers, who frequently hazard prophecies the inevitable collapse of which they must know will be their own exposure, that false prophecy probably has a deeper source - namely, that, cauterized in conscience (1 Tim. 4: 2), they love lies, and do not always know when they do lie.  Truth, past or future, can be of little consequence to a being in whom conscience has been obliterated.

 

8. Letters to a Friend, pp. 109, 131.  So utterly untrustworthy have the ‘prophecies’ become, that they are held unauthoritative and invalid until sanctioned by the ‘apostles’; and the prophetical gift, which at one time attempted to over-ride all authority, has gradually lost influence, and been restricted within narrow limits.  Already in the Tongues Movement “the gift of discerning of spirits needs to be governed by the apostle  Showers of Blessing, Jan. 1923.  Mormonism, which had its simultaneous ‘tongues,’ twelve apostles, prophets, and salvation by sacrament, subordinated its ‘apostles’ to its ‘prophets,’ and thus giving full reign to a spirit of delusion, became involved in ruin.  See Miller’s History, vol. ii., pp. 46, 86.  In 1880, Mr. H. M. Prior, for twenty years a minister in the body, said: “I have never heard one clear and definite prediction of anything which could be tested  My Experience of the Catholic Apostolic Church, p. 33; Stratford, 1880.

 

9. See Mr. Baxter’s Narrative, p. 31; Mr. Miller’s History, vol., pp. 70, 247; Mrs. Oliphant’s Life, etc.  So among the Camisards, dreadful judgments to fall on London within three weeks; individual resurrections foretold; the descent of Christ in three years:- prophecy after prophecy failed dismally; and “it was only,” says Elias Marion, one of their leaders, “by the ‘inspirations,’ and their repeated orders, that we took up arms” - to be exterminated.

 

10. Human Nature of our Lord, p. 13; London, 1830.  (My italics.)

 

11. Human Nature of our Lord, p. 24.

 

12. Edward Irving and the Catholic Apostolic Church, p. 7; by One of its Members; London, 1856.  So also Mrs. Oliphant’s Life. Vol. ii., p. 272; Miller’s History, vol. ii., p. 289, etc.  Cf. Irvingism and Mormonism Tested by Scripture, p. 19; by Emilius Guers, London, 1854.

 

13. Liturgy, 1892 edition, pp. 166, 169.

 

14. Edward Irving and the Catholic Apostolic Church, p. 4. (My italics.)  So also Dr. Norton’s Restoration of Apostles, p. 40; Miller’s History, vol. i., p. 223; and Remarks on Mr. Burnett’s “Irvingism,” p. 11 [by the ‘pillar of the apostles’]; London, 1867.  Whether Mr. Irving’s successors hold the full doctrine or a modified form of it is not material to our inquiry; for it was the doctrine preached by Mr. Irving himself (never withdrawn) which the ‘utterance’ upheld.  It is curious how the sinlessness of the believer and the sinfulness of Christ are doctrines which, separately or together, have haunted supernatural movements.  The Shakers, for example, holding both, said:- “The opinion which obtains so extensively among mankind that no man, not even a real Christian, is able to live without committing sin, is one of the most destructive errors that ever proceeded from the powers of darkness  So, in a protest against the Tongues Movement, the Evangelical leaders in Germany said in 1909:- “The Church of God in Germany has cause for deep contrition that the movement has been able to find acceptance.  In particular is the  unscriptural teaching of the so-called ‘clean Pentecostal Movement, of which Pastor Paul is the leader, as he is also the champion of this unscriptural teaching” The Life of Faith, Nov. 10, 1909.  Irving held both.

 

15. Human Nature of Our Lord, pp. 8, 10, 30, etc.

 

16. For an adequate discussion of the doctrine, see Appendix to the second edition of Dean Goode’s Modern Claims to the Gifts of the Spirit.  The doctrine itself is best stated in Mr. Irving’s Human Nature of Our Lord and the Morning Watch.  See also Mr. J. N. Darby’s Collected Writings, vol. iv.

 

17. See Deut. 13: 1-3, John 5: 31-39. Cf. Luke 16: 31.

 

18. A Letter to the Gifted Persons, p. 12; by D. M. London, 1834. (My italics.)  Cf. Preface to Reasons for Thinking Mr. Irving Deceived; by the Rev. P, Blackburn, 2nd. ed., Cambridge, 1834.

 

 

THE FAILURE OF IRVINGISM

 

 

Thus Irvingism 1 failed in great and systematic miracles; it never rose above the level of Camisard prophecy, Romish cures, or utterances of the s้ance; it never flowed into mirabilia magna (Ps. 136: 4); never greeted the multitudes with a visible Pentecost; never healed the stricken in London streets, 2 nor lifted the hand of the dead.  The ‘utterance,’ shorn of its early force and startling effect, remains; but, hedged about as it is from inquiry, it is difficult to define, safely and accurately, its present character. [Page 31] Yet it is equally difficult to suppose the ‘prophets’ guilty of conscious fraud.  I admit the influence is not less than appalling.  “Presently broke forth, in startling dissonance, truly an unknown tongue.  I should judge, by its harshness, it was the utterance of a man.  I could not see the speaker, or to be more correct, the ROARER3 It was so, of old, in the congregation of God’s earthly people.  “Thine adversaries have ROARED in the midst of Thine assembly.  There is no more any prophet, neither is there any among us any that knoweth how long” (Ps. 74: 4, 9).  “FALSE PROPHETS” - I have myself heard the ‘utterance’ exclaim, ringing sharply through the chancel in Gordon Square - “FALSE APOSTLES, THAT SOOTHE THE PEOPLE WITH DECEIT AND FALSE PROMISES!”4 “Oh, could I but have known a year ago,” said an elder in an Irvingite church, “what this would have led me to, nothing on earth could have induced me to join it; the Lord forgive me5 Yet, quick to warn, let us be slow to condemn: among ‘Catholic Apostolic’ assemblies we rejoice to recognise children of our Father, and sheep of the flock of Christ.  God’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; nor palsied, that it will not punish.  Ah, Edward Irving, too eager for the latter rain, you moved before the hand of God: Him who had foretold evil, and granted a safe-conduct through the thick of it, you deserted for your own discrimination, which was confusion, your own wisdom, that was but folly: so God would show His people, in succeeding times, that waiting must be on Him who giveth in due season - the ravens their food, and men His Spirit; and not by human wisdom, or fallible judgment, can be revealed the [Page 32] thoughts and intents of that pale host, whose eyes are regarding humanity, dread, tearless, desolate.6

 

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1. It is Scriptural (Rev. 2: 6) to speak of false teaching by the name of its originator, and it is Mr. Irving’s false teaching on the source of the ‘utterance’ which is commonly understood as Irvingism.  The movement was too wide-spread, and too much a design of unseen powers, to have been, strictly speaking, with which it was so closely associated, is inseparable from it; especially when we reflect that without his permission and encouragement its very existence would have been problematical.  I use the term with no wish to offend his successors.

 

2. Some cures, doubtless, may have been wrought, as is probably the case with certain classes of ‘mediums,’ but successful healings are rare, obscure, and ambiguous.  The doctor’s testimony, in the Case of Miss Fancourt (p. 61; London, 1831), casts some doubt on the best evidenced example; although the prejudice against miracle in the compilers of this pamphlet is ably criticised in Eruvin (pp. 241-289; by Rev. S. R. Maitland, D. D.D., F.R.S., 2nd. ed., 1850). ‘Prophets’ and elders were once gathered round a dying son of Mr. Irving: an ‘utterance’ on the spot said he would not die, but be restored; but, while they were bidding him rise, the child expired.  Errors of Irvingism, p. 17.  Power was to be given to heal the blind and raise the dead – both of which failed irredeemably.  See Rev. W. J. W. Bennett’s The Church Broken Unity: Irvingism, pp. 237-275; London.

 

3. A Morning’s Visit to the Rev. Irving’s, p. 7; by Anti-Cabala, London, 1832.

 

4. The ‘utterance’ was commenting on Dives, and addressing itself to the kings of the earth.

 

5. Letters to a Friend, p. 120.  “It is commonly admitted by us,” says an Irvingite writer, “that there is no essential difference between the prophetic utterances now, and those which were heard among the Society of Friends in their early days.” (H. M. Prior’s My Experience of the Catholic Apostolic Church, p. 67; London, 1880): why then the enormous gulf between the riteless Quaker and the Romanized Irvingite, unless both inspirations were demonic?

 

6. “The Lord grant” - in the pathetic words of a disillusioned Irvingite ‘prophetess’ – “that when this sad conflict is over with the powers of darkness, we shall meet where nothing that can defile shall enter  A Letter to the Gifted Persons, p. 22.  Ignorance of former Satanic impostures, as well as ignorance of contemporary Spiritualism, has been extraordinarily fruitful in disaster all down the ages, and in the modern Church: for to rarely is it possible for us to say, as the Apostolic Christians could, - “We are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2: 22); and none of us is free from the peril of some fresh subtilty of which we never dreamed.  Thus the study of Irvingism, the closest of all counterfeits, by arming the mind with an expose of Satanic strategy at its cleverest, goes far towards reducing the risk of seduction when fresh supernatural movements arise, as arise they must with increasing frequency.

 

 

DANGERS OF A RESTORATION OF MIRACLE

 

 

We rise dazed from the study of Irvingism.  Inevitably, after inquiry into haughty utterance and ringing oracle, the doubt confronts us whether prayer for miracle is a lawful prayer, or, as with the Jews of old, a snare and a stumbling block.  The prayer, it is obvious, may spring from a secret and earthly ambition; from spiritual pride; from unbelief in the Spirit’s indwelling in the disciple’s heart; from an inadequate appreciation of Christian evidence:- altogether from motives the least likely to bring about a restoration, or even akin to the impulses of Simon Magus.  It may be a direct incitement to fanaticism, a Satanic suggestion to force God to miracle, but not in the path of duty - the last temptation of a supremely devoted soul (Luke 4: 9).  Further there confronts us, with dissuasive power, our own grave inability to discern, in a path encompassed with spiritual deceptions; a path in which Satan appears as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11: 14); and which must culminate, as the [evil] age nears its close, in impalpable perils even to the elect (Matt. 24: 24).  An energy of delusion, 1 even over sincere minds, appeared in an Irvingite ‘apostle’; to whom Mr. Baxter wrote: “I venture to [Page 33] appeal to you in the name of Jesus to tell me whether you do not know, and your conscious bear you witness, that you are not an apostle?” - and who replied that, though devoid of miraculous powers, in his conscience he believed himself an apostle. 2  Mr. George Soltau, investigating the Tongues Movement at its source in 1908, reports a case of a woman speaking in German; and a German present was shocked to hear her saying the most obscene things with a shining, radiant face. 3 In Spiritualism appear the same powers to deceive, and the same unguarded and fatuous credulity.  “With almost transfigured countenance,” says Professor Zollner, the ‘medium’ Slade “uttered, with altered voice and head upturned, so fine a prayer that I shall never forget the impression which the noble speech and the fervour with which the prayer was spoken made upon me4 Swaddling bands of the fairest fill the cradle of Antichrist.  Nor must the terrible fact ever fade from our vision that the seductions of spirit-intercourse are yet to create that landslide from all Faith, the horror of the Apostasy, out of which the Antichrist will spring (1 Tim. 4: 1-3, 2 Thess. 2: 9-11).  But, profoundly conscious of danger and the possibility of a morbid appetite for miracle, truth yet demands of us the recognition in past epochs of a pure and lawful desire for miraculous powers; and, further, the admission that perils of imposture cannot be a final barrier to a manifestation of God’s Spirit.  For such was the early Apostolic attitude.  The first disciples, girded with demonic manifestations, and after a lapse of the prophetic order for a prolonged period, struck, at Pentecost, the new fount of Christian prophecy; and the first recorded prayer of the Church (Acts 4: 30) included a petition that signs and wonders might be wrought by believers 5 So also the discriminating tests can be as relied on as can God Himself.

 

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1. 2 Thess. 2: 11; though the delusion resting on Antichrist’s worshippers, referred to by Paul, will be irremediable.  Rev. 13: 8.

 

2. Irvingism, p. 45.

 

3. The Christian, Jen. 16, 1908.

 

4. Transcendental Physics, p. 196.

 

5. It should further be borne in mind that with restored gifts would be restored the gift to discern spirits; and that miraculous powers would now, as then (1 Cor. 14: 37), rest on the Word, quick to unmask imposture.

 

[Page 34]

THE LAPSE OF MIRACULOUS GIFTS

 

 

But, before observing the Holy Scripture the rightful place in the hearts of disciples assigned to a desire for miracle, let us observe the reasons, held by many Christian teachers as decisive, why Christian miracle is thought to be neither desirable nor possible.  These will be found to rest, not on any alleged Scriptures, but, ultimately, on two main pillars:- (1) on the argument that miracle was a temporary aid to the early missionary church; and (2) on the fact of its absence.  The fact is more or less obvious: some writers are puzzled by it; others admit that they see no insuperable barrier to the return of miracle; others again bodily assert that the lapse of miraculous gift is a part of God’s original plan. 1. But (1) the disappearance of Christian miracle is [Page 35] not a solution of the problem: it is the problem itself.  If God designed that miracles should cease, their absence would be consistent with the design; but that absence, unless justified from the Scriptures, cannot be held sufficient proof, standing alone, that such was the Divine plan.  To argue that the miracles were designed to pass away because they have ceased is to use the fact to solve the fact.  Nor (2) is the early church’s acute need, upon which commentators heap up the burden of proof, more conclusive, or calculated to bear the vast load laid upon its shoulders.

 

 

A day arrived, in the opinion of Dr. Trench, “when to the wisdom of God it appeared that He had adequately confirmed the word with signs following, and that this framework might be withdrawn from the completed arch, these props and strengthenings of the tender plant might safely be removed from the hardier tree2 The supporters of this explanation of the cessation of miracle point to the alleged missionary, and therefore transient, character of the gift of tongues.  But, even if a present diminished demand for evangelising powers be granted, it becomes evident, on a study of Paul’s treatise on inspired powers (1 Cor. 12. - 14.), that the gift of tongues, in the absence of an interpreter, was a gift solely for the speaker’s own edification.  “For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh NOT UNTO MEN, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries” (1 Cor. 14: 2).  “He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself” (1 Cor. 14: 4).  The tongue, so far from having a purpose purely evangelistic, was rather a supernatural energy poured forth in language often unintelligible, even to the speaker himself.  “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth; but my understanding is unfruitful” (1 Cor. 14: 14).  But Dr. Trench’s argument rests on the assumption that no need exists in the modern church for miraculous powers.  If grave needs call as imperatively as of old; if inspiration and miracle were warp and woof in the church as it left the hands of God; if the purposes served by miracle persist, [Page 36] contemporaneous with, and inseparable from, the existence of a church on earth; if the gifts were conditional on faith: - such facts, if established, would shake from under the argument its basis of assumption, and strip it of all efficacy as a solution.

 

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1. Some, as Rev. T. Boys (The Christian Dispensation Miraculous) and Dr. Horace Bushnell (Nature and the Supernatural), deny that divine miracles have never ceased.  But the historical proofs are vague and ambiguous, and strikingly unapostolic; and generally accompany fanaticism, unscriptural doctrine, and even apostasy.  Can any serious thinker support the claims of Loyola, Swedenborg, Joanna Southcott, or Joseph Smith to divine inspiration?  Others, as the Brethren (Mr. J. N. Darby’s Collected Writings, Ecclesiastical, vol. iii., and Mr. W. Kelley, On the Gifts), claim possession of the gifts, shorn of their miraculous character; but to a critical student, the Scriptural Gifts were in their very nature supernatural.  See Acts 2., 8: 14-18, 19: 1-7, 1 Cor. 12., 14.  On this point Mr. Govett’s pamphlets present conclusive proof; and I would here acknowledge my indebtedness to that profound thinker.  See also, for an exhaustive exposition of 1 Cor. 12. - 14., his work entitled The Church of Old.  Possibly the nearest modern approach to inspiration lies in Mr. Spurgeon’s experience.  “Often and often,” he says (Lectures to my Students, second series, p. 9), “when I have had doubts suggested by the infidel I have been able to fling them to the winds with utter scorn, because I am distinctly conscious of a power working upon me when I am speaking in the name of the Lord, infinitely transcending any personal power of fluency, and far surpassing any energy derived from excitement such as I have felt when delivering a secular lecture or making a speech - so utterly distinct from such power that I am quite certain it is not of the same order or class as the enthusiasm of the politician or the glow of the orator  Yet Mr. Spurgeon was the first to acknowledge the unbridged chasm that lies between such utterance and unalloyed inspiration.

 

2. On the Miracles, p. 58.

 

 

ORIGIN AND NATURE OF THE GIFTS

 

 

The gifts of the Holy Ghost, foretold by Joel (2: 28, 29), by John (Matt. 3: 11), and by our Lord (John 14: 12, Luke 24: 49), were the Father’s promise (Luke 24: 49, Acts 1: 4, Gal. 3: 14, Eph. 1: 13) - a promise fulfilled on the ascension of Christ (John 16: 17).  Disciples, in the hour the Lord ascended, were regenerate; they were His, and therefore indwelt by the Spirit (Rom. 8: 9); but not yet had the Holy Ghost been given, in outpouring of miracle and power.  “Ye shall be baptised with the Holy Ghost,” said the Lord, “not many days thence” (Acts 1: 5).  With alighting tongues of fire, and power of supernatural utterance, these believers, already regenerate, were now baptised in the Spirit, and clothed with [His, i.e. the Holy Spirit’s] power (Luke 24: 49, R.V.).  The indwelling of the Spirit was supplemented by His outpouring.  Regeneration is invisible (John 3: 8): the clothing with the Spirit is His manifestation (1 Cor. 12: 7).  For its [His] fruit is miracle.  Believers on whom the Spirit descended instantly spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19: 6).  Simon Magus saw, by its effect, that the Holy Ghost was transmitted (Acts 8: 18).  The gifts were God’s external sign of an internal work of regeneration:- in outpouring (Acts 2: 17, 33); an anointing (1 John 2: 27); a baptism (Acts 11: 15, 16) 1; a clothing (Luke 24: 49); a visible seal stamped by the hand of God (Eph. 1: 13).  [Page 37] Two methods were ordained for the reception of the Spirit: (1) direct illapse, as in Jew (Acts 2: 4-11), and on Gentile (Acts 10: 44-47); and (2) the laying on of the apostle’s hands, after the supply had been established by illapse; as it is recorded: “The Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word” (Acts 10: 44); and also: “When Simon saw that through the laying on of an apostle’s hands the Holy Ghost was given” (Acts 8: 18, 19: 6). 2 Apostles were, as a rule, necessary for thus ministering the Spirit.  Samaritan disciples, though begotten from above, had not received the Spirit; “for as yet He was fallen upon none of them”: therefore, apostles are sent; “then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost” (Acts 8: 14-17).  Direct inspiration was one fruit of the gift: “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2: 4).  Various were the gifts thus given:- workings of miracles, prediction, and discernment of spirits; powers of healing, and even of resurrection; inspiration in tongues, interpretation, and revelation of doctrine; supernatural faith, knowledge, and wisdom (1 Cor. 12: 7-10).  All the churches of the apostles possessed them:- Jerusalem (Acts 4: 31, 5: 31); Samaria (Acts 8: 15-17); Caesarea (Acts 10: 46); Galatia (Gal. 3: 5); Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5: 20); Corinth (1 Cor. 1: 5-7); Ephesus (Acts 19: 6).  In every city the Holy Ghost testified to Paul (Acts 20: 23). 3

 

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1. Since the New Testament holds no example of a baptism in the Spirit divorced from miracle and inspiration - which are not only its invariable accompaniments, but its indispensable proof - the modern appropriation of the terms for an access of grace or a deeper consecration is both unfortunate and incorrect.  “To say that the baptism in the Spirit has changed, and is now invisible, is to hide up the humbling ruin” (P. W. Heward).

 

2. “Other believers beside the Apostles received the Holy Ghost, enabling them to speak with tongues; but the Apostles alone appear to have been endued with the power of conveying to others the gift of the Holy Ghost, enabling them to speak with tongues” (Chrysostom).

 

3. The gifts were not, as is often assumed, outbursts of enthusiasm and ecstasy; but were under control of the gifted (1 Cor. 14: 32); conduced to sober edification and teaching (1 Cor. 14: 12); and could be exercised in order and discipline (1 Cor. 14: 26-33).  They were not preceded by brooding, accompanied by frenzy, or followed by exhaustion; but, unlike the injurious possession by unclean spirits, were holy and healthful energies of the Spirit of God.

 

[Page 38]

RULES FOR THE EXERCISE OF INSPIRED GIFTS

 

 

One fact must rivet the attention of most casual.  Paul’s treatise on supernatural gifts (1 Cor. 12. - 14.) remains an integral portion of Scripture.  It regulates, with no hint of their discontinuance,1 the assembly of God in full exercise of miraculous gifts.  It is concerning the inspired that Paul writes; disciples possessed, among other gifts, of powers of miracle, healing, tongues, prophecy, interpretation, supernatural discernment (1 Cor. 12: 8-11); each of which was a manifestation (ver. 7), the manifest working, of the One Spirit through the individual disciple; and all the result of baptism in the Holy Ghost (ver. 13).  The Spirit outpoured upon all (vers. 12-14) proved the unity of the one Body; and in this Body of Christ, the Church, were set, apparently in permanent rank, apostles, 2 prophets, teachers, workers of miracle, of healing, helps, governments, speakers in tongues (vers. 27-29).  Love and prophecy, both to be sought for earnestly (14: 1), are both treated as permanent elements in a dispensation itself transient.  Love is superior (13: 8); but both grace and gift, according to the command, are to be desired, and the gifts regulated by the rules laid down.  Paul emphasises the superiority of prophecy 3 [Page 39] over tongues (14: 1-11); on the ground that the speaker in tongues edifies himself; but the prophetic utterance, understood by the whole assembly, ministers to all.  Therefore the speaker in a tongue must - not cease so to speak, but - pray for the additional gift of interpretation.  “Wherefore let him that speaketh in a tongue pray that he may interpret” (ver. 13). 4 Paul assumes that, in the Christian church, all might speak with tongues (ver. 23), or prophecy (vers. 24, 31); for each came to the assembly already possessed of some utterance prepared by inspiration (ver. 26): the especial need, therefore, was regulation of the gifts, for their proper subordination and employment.  Two or three might speak in tongues, if an interpreter were present (ver. 27); otherwise, the tongue-gifted was to speak only to himself, and to God (ver. 28).  Each prophet, whose gift was under perfect control (ver. 32), and whose utterance was analysed as Divine, or demonic, by the prophets present (ver. 29), must speak in turn, two or three for each gathering; but, on a sudden thought or discourse from the Spirit, the speaking prophet was to be silent.  “But if a revelation be made to another sitting by, let the first keep silence” (ver. 30). 5  For the miracle-gifted primitive assemblies, as portrayed in this ‘locus classicus’ of Apostolic worship, did not quote Scripture, they spoke it; for which pregnant reason the passage nowhere records [Page 40] the reading of Scripture in public worship. 6 These rules, followed in all the churches (ver. 33), served, by their acceptance or rejection, as a test of inspiration applicable to all claimants of prophetic or inspired powers (ver. 37), as commands from the Lord himself.  “Wherefore, my brethren,” sums up the Apostle, “desire earnestly to prophecy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.  But let all things be done decently and in order

 

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1. 1 Cor. 13: 8 refers to a future age.

 

2. Apostles were an order, not a select number (Eph. 4: 11, 1 Cor. 12: 28); ten of whom are named (Acts 14: 14, Rom. 16: 7, I Cor. 9: 5, Phil. 2: 25; 1 Thess. 1: 1; cf. with 2: 6), and the last two referred to as “apostles of churches” (2 Cor. 8: 23), beside the original twelve (Luke 6: 13).

 

3. Whether as pure prediction, or as the Holy Spirit’s motions on the mind (2 Pet. 1: 21) so as to inform and expound through the prophet, scriptural prophecy, shaped to the ends of edification, comfort, and consolation (1 Cor. 14: 3), is proved by its contexts a miraculous gift.  It is always supernatural speech, whether on behalf of God (as in Neh. 9: 30), or for the purpose of foretelling (as in Mark 7: 6): see 2 Pet. 1: 21; 1 Sam. 10: 10; 1 Kings 22: 22; Ezek. 12: 27; Eph. 3: 5, etc.  Thus our Lord, struck from behind, was bidden to prophecy - to divine - who struck Him. Matt. 26: 68.  The prophet could reveal the secrets of an unbeliever’s heart. 1 Cor. 14: 25.  “For no prophecy ever came by the will of man2 Pet. 1: 21.

 

4. These two gifts equalled in value the prophetic (v. 5) - a proof that the latter also was supernatural.  The counterfeit is instructive of the true.  Here is a description of his ‘gift’ by one of the Camisards:- “I do not so much as understand the English of many of them [i.e., the Latin  prophecies], but as the inspiration itself does at the time teach inwardly the sense of them, nor do I at all know the conjugations, and even yet, when out of the ecstasy, I am utterly incapable of composing anything of that kind, though upon the utmost deliberation and thought.  Hundreds in this city can attest that the French I speak at other times is far short of what is here delivered in that language.  The Greek words mentioned in some of these discourses came likewise from my mouth, and the sense of them is clearly impressed upon me in the moment of pronouncing, though the words I otherwise understood not

 

5. The prophetess was to exercise her gift in private (vers. 34, 35). Cf. 1 Cor. 11: 3-16.

 

6. For the exceedingly important bearing of the doctrine of miracle on Inspiration, and the consequent infallibility of Scripture, see Our Seat of Authority (Thynne & Jarvis).

 

 

JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH THE BASIS OF CHRISTIAN MIRACLE

 

 

The Scriptures are silent on the lapse of gift. No forecast is given of the day when these affluent channels of Divine energy should fail from ministry and worship, and the Church, stripped of her heavenly jewels, should conduct, by the aid alone of gifts of nature, the assemblies and ministries of the saints.  The apostles assume miraculous gifts as the basis of the church’s corporate life.  Passages which expound them reach down to the foundations of gospel truth, and intertwine with the taproot of all revelation.  Paul, for example, is content to prove, from the presence of miracle as the crucial point, the superiority of the Gospel over Law.  “This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit 1 by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Gal. 3: 2). If out of the Gospel, argues the Apostle, sprang the gifts, it would be folly to return to the Law, out of which sprang no such continuous and general miracle.  “He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, AND WORKETH MIRACLES AMONG YOU, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith(ver. 5).  The issue is explicit.  By the hearing of faith answers Paul; for to Abraham God promised the Spirit, 2 [Page 41] and that solely on the ground of his faith (vv. 6-14).  Disciples of Christ are sons of Abraham by faith; therefore, inheritors of this special promise; and, consistently with the argument, in place of the driblet of miracle under the Law,3 the Church received an outpoured flood.  Important inferences flow from the argument. (1) If miracle be thus a crucial difference between Law and Gospel, it must be because it is an essential, not an accidental, difference; that is, miracle must spring out of the essence of the Gospel, to prove its superiority to the Law.  For, if not, not only would Paul’s reasoning be proved futile by the lapse of gift, but later disciples, tempted to legalism, would have found, and would now find, no deterrent in his words.  Again (2) it must be an abiding difference.  If the superiority be temporary and local, so must be the gifts out of which that superiority rose: and, conversely, if the gifts, in which Paul detects the superiority, were to be temporary, so also must be the superiority.  A church devoid of miraculous gift could not be Paul’s argument.  But the Apostle employes it as a final argument.  “This only would I learn of you.”  Thus Paul’s inspired insight perceives in the miraculous supply of the Spirit an essential and abiding excellence of the Gospel, in which it transcends the Law.  (3) Nor would the apostolic miracles alone satisfy the argument; for the Law, equally with the Gospel, was proved Divine by miracle in its inception.  The decisive advantage of Faith, the critical superiority, lies in the introduction of general miracle and inspiration, not in an isolated order of prophets, but distributed throughout the church.  “Received YE the Spirit“He that supplieth to you the Spirit4 Thus the Apostle clamps together as with [Page 42] iron links the promise of Abraham and the supernatural gifts, miracle and justification by faith.  “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law … that we might receive the promise of the Spirit THROUGH FAITH” (Gal. 3: 13, 14).  Nor does the argument over-reach itself.  For it is fully possible to possess a promise, unclaimed; to lose the use of a gift, though not the title to it; and the fact that, among ourselves, from the hearing of faith springs no miracle, by no means disproves the possibility of their vital union in the design of God, or that disciples may be, not only not exhausting, but scarcely drawing upon, their unsearchable riches in Christ.5

 

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1. The Spirit’s reception, as the contexts show, was proved by the presence of miracle and inspiration.  See John 7: 37-39; Acts 2: 33, 38, 8: 14-19, 10: 47, 19: 2.  According to Scripture precedent, the supernatural element seems always to have accompanied the reception of the Holy Spirit.

 

2. The promise of the Spirit was a promise of miracle: see Luke 24: 49; Acts 2: 33; Eph. 1: 13.

 

3. Even miracle under law was worked by faith. Heb. 11.

 

4. It is true that God uses economy in miracle; there is no waste of power: and it is also true that universal miracle would cease to be miraculous.  But be it noted that the promise was to disciples (Mark 16: 17); - in all ages a little flock whose exercise of supernatural powers would render miracle no more trite or wasteful than in the apostolic age itself.

 

5. If the additional supply of Oil (Matt. 25: 4), which the Prudent Virgins carried in their cans, is the miraculous supply of the Spirit in inspiration and miracle – incomparably the best exposition yet offered – then the inaugural banquet ushering in the Kingdom, a brief scene of joy in the Heavenlies, will be shared by the ‘gifted’ alone; and Jewish Apostles, it would appear - the vendors of the oil (ver. 9) - must again be abroad in the earth at the last. [i.e. in this restored earth.]  “It is enough for the interpretation to show that the virgins suppose that there would be such on earth.  Whether they will be borne out by fact I am not bound to show, though even that may be made to appear; for if Elijah comes first to restore all things, he must restore the spirit of prophecy among the number; and it is in this character that he is presented as the Olive-tree supplying with oil the bowl of the Lamp” (Govett).  For the only adequate exposition of this parable (so far as I know) ever given, see R. Govett’s All Believers Interested on the Parable of the Virgins and Supplement to the Ten Virgins.

 

 

THE PURPOSES ANCIENTLY SERVED BY MIRACLE

 

 

Beneath the superstructure of the apostolic Church lay the unshakable basis of miracle, the bed-rock of its power, and the halo of its saintship.  Its foundation was apostles and prophets (Eph. 2: 20).  For (1) the gifts proved to the world the mission of the church.  As credentials of evangelists and teachers (Rom. 15: 18, Gal. 2: 7, 8):- confirming the word preached (Mark 16: 20, Heb. 2: 4), [Page 43] and the word written (Acts 15: 27); - winning hearers to obedience (Rom. 15: 18):- miracle bore the Gospel forth with the seal of God.  When early evangelists taught, God bore witness with them, both by signs and wonders, and by manifold powers, and by gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will (Heb. 2: 4).  Thus Paul “made the Gentiles obedient by utterance and deed, through mighty signs and wonders, by the power if the Spirit of God” (Rom. 15: 18).1 (2) The gifts strengthened and guided individual disciples.  Believers were established more firmly (Rom. 1: 11); the weakness of the flesh was overcome (Gal. 3: 2, 3), and courage implanted (Acts 4: 29-31); the power of his Lord followed the disciple (John 14: 12); direct guidance was given unto all the truth (John 16: 13), the servant was prepared for his Lord’s return (1 Cor. 1: 4-7) and the future [millennial] Age foreshadowed (Heb. 4: 4, 5).  “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 the Father” (John 14: 12).  (3) The gifts sustained and directed the church.  Officers were so chosen (1 Tim. 1: 18); discipline was thus exercised (1 Cor. 5: 4); 2 ability was given to the inspired to judge all things (1 Cor. 2: 15); the sphere of work was strictly defined (Acts 16: 7).  Miracles and powers of inspiration were the riches of the Church.  “I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus; that in everything ye were enriched in Him, in all utterance and all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was [Page 44] confirmed in you; so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Cor. 1: 4-7).  Do not these strenuous needs persist undiminished, and urge, as imperatively as of old, the need and fitness of supernatural endowment?  It is not obvious why miracles have ceased.  The love, the order, the power of the miracle-gifted churches contrast sadly with the pitiable conflict and chaos of modern belief.  The infidel, keenly alive to the impotence, is by that impotence confirmed in his infidelity.  Sapped in faith, in holiness, in aloofness from the world, the Church relaxed its grasp of the gifts, which, as manifestations of the Spirit, invited persecution; relied less on the Spirit, as it learned to lean more on the State; abandoned the powers of faith, as it fell back to justification by works; until the divine and marvellous glory of the first splendid powers was replaced by scarlet robes and crosses and censers of gold, and over the portal of God’s spiritual temple was inscribed ‘Ichabod

 

 

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1. So Mark 16: 20: the Lord confirmed the word preached by means of the signs following.

 

2. Supernatural judgment on hypocrites (Acts 5: 1, 13) awed the churches, and dissuaded the ungodly from simulation.  But grotesque judgments, such as occur among modern ‘Tongues,’ were unknown.  “One man,” says Mrs. Woodworth Etter (Signs and Wonders, p. 30), “was mocking a woman of whose body God had taken control.  She was preaching with gestures.  When in that mocking attitude God struck him dumb.  He became rigid and remained with his hands up, and his mouth drawn in that mocking way for five hours, a gazing-stick for all in the house

 

 

THE SHECKINAH TYPE

 

 

Most striking is the obviously designed type.  In the moment of the Temple’s dedication (1 Kings 8: 10), the Sheckinah Glory descended, and abode in it - so the Spirit descended, and, in the fires of Pentecost, consecrated the Spiritual Temple: for several centuries the Sheckinah remained, a corporate gift, designed as the permanent glory of the Temple - so the ‘manifestation’ of the Holy Ghost abode, for several centuries, in the Church, a gift of God without repentance: finally, for appalling corruption within the Temple precincts, the Sheckinah, pausing in reluctant flight, returned to Heaven (Ezek. 10: 19) - so, from a Church promptly and incredibly corrupt, miracle and inspiration - not by the plan of God, but by the unfaithfulness of man - finally lapsed.  As with the Sheckinah, so with the Church, none but a corporate restoration can repair a corporate loss, or recover a corporate gift.  Nevertheless, as He stood in the dimness of the temple when shorn [Page 45] of its Sheckinah Glory, the Lord Jesus is still in the midst of the assemblies of His faithful and obedient people.  “Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the end of the age” (Matt. 28: 20).  Miraculous orders and gifts are of the bene esse, not of the esse, of the Church.  Be it observed, however, that prophecy has been peculiarly God’s instrument in a dispensation involved in failure: the Sheckinah withdrew, but Prophets arose.1

 

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1. The Church’s eclipse was foreshadowed, almost foretold, by Paul (Rom. 11: 22).  See also Matt. 13: 33; Luke 18: 8; Acts 20: 29; 1 Tim. 4: 1; Rev. 2.,

& 3., 17.

 

 

MIRACLE AND THE NEEDS OF THE CHURCH

 

 

The needs thus supernaturally met, embedded in the nature of church work and worship, and inadequately served by purely natural gifts, survive unshorn of their original urgency.  Whether by discernment of spirits and powers to heal; knowledge of all truth, or revelation of things to come (John 16: 13); edification of the disciple by tongues, or the church by prophecy; momentous purposes, unimaginable in their issues, would be served by a restoration of miracle to the Church.  Apostles, founding churches (1 Cor. 9: 1, 2), administering the baptism of the Spirit (Acts 8: 14-18), revealing God’s mind by word and letter, ruling individual churches (2 Cor. 8: 23, see Greek), guarding Christian assemblies from false apostles (Rev. 2: 2), and bearing personal witness to a risen Christ (1 Cor. 9: 1), would once again bear up the pillars of Christ’s Church.  Powers of word and cure would, if restored, confirm God’s message through His pastors, arrest Satan’s hand on the sick and the demoniac, and convict, with tenfold persuasiveness, a heathen darkness that glows by leaps and bounds with mere growth of population.  Order and unity in discipline, worship, and doctrine accompany the tremendous preface to apostolic [Page 46] injunction - Thus saith the Holy Ghost. 1 Nor is such a restoration an impossible dream.  For (1) inspired orders, together with orders not necessarily inspired,2 were to work together, in God’s design, until the Church had reached its perfect growth.  “And He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [why, and for how long?] for the perfecting of the saints, unto the work of ministering, unto the building up of the Body of Christ: TILL we all attain unto the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a full-grown man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4: 11-13).  The promise of supernatural illapse was unlimited by local or temporal restrictions, and unhampered by condition except of faith.  “And these signs shall follow THEM THAT BELIEVE: in My name shall they cast out demons; they shall speak with new tongues;3 they shall take up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall in no wise hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover” (Mark 16: 17, 18).  Nor was the promise of miraculous enduement in any shape or form confined: [Page 47] no hypothetical ‘dispensation of the Acts,’ no temporary outburst of miracle, no alleged substitution of grace for gift can be made to square with a catholicity of promise vast as all the churches, and prolonged as all election:- “for to you is the promise, and to your children, and to AS MANY AS THE LORD OUR GOD SHALL CALL UNTO HIM” (Acts 2: 39).  (2) Moreover, the prayer for gifts of inspiration and miracle is not only legitimate, but commanded.  Paul addresses all disciples (1 Cor. 1: 2) in these words: “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?  Have all gifts of healings?  Do all speak with tongues?  Do all interpret?  But DESIRE EARNESTLY THE GREATER GIFTS” (1 Cor. 12: 28-31).  It will hardly be contended that here the greater gifts are the unmiraculous.  “I would have you all,” says the Apostle, “speak with tongues” (1 Cor. 14: 5).  Before and after mention of gifts of tongues, prophecies, powers of cure and miracle, Paul says: “DESIRE EARNESTLY SPIRITUAL GIFTS, but rather that ye may prophecy” (1 Cor. 14: 1).  Shall we withstand God, and pronounce such gifts undesirable?  “Wherefore, my brethren,” sums up the Apostle, “DESIRE EARNESTLY TO PROPHECY, and forbid not to speak with tongues” (1 Cor. 14: 39).  So also (3) our Lord’s promises attached to faithful prayer, so unconditional, so unlimited, so exhaustive, verbally embrace the gift of the Spirit.  “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit TO THEM THAT ASK HIM?” (Luke 11: 13).  “Ye have not,” says the Scripture (James 4: 2), “because ye ask not  Finally (4) even those who hold most strongly that miracles ceased by God’s design are free to acknowledge - some insistently urge - that a returned junction of dispensations, bringing back the old needs, will restore the old powers; that this is predicted; and that, standing on the threshold of that era, it is for us to be alertly ready, in mind and spirit, for such a crisis.

 

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1. Here is the kernel of unity and infallibility.  “What is infallibility,” asks Cardinal Manning, “but the revelation perpetuated, and inspiration produced by illumination – the extraordinary by the ordinary – the immediate by the mediate action of the Holy Spirit  Purcell’s Life, vol. i., p. 602.  This is Roman infallibility - an enormous claim confessedly shorn of evidence, a shadow, an imposture.  Infallibility in apostles was proved by accompanying miracle; it was the immediate, not the mediate, action of the Spirit; it was extraordinary gift, imperatively calling for extraordinary proof.  Rome rests for unity, not on the inspired utterance of apostles and prophets, which would be hers, if she were indeed infallible, - but on coercion, which bullies the soul, and drugs the conscience.  Spiritual infallibility, and consequent unity, rested on the personal utterance of inspiration. 1 Cor. 14: 37.  Conflict of private judgment followed as an inevitable evil on the silence of the speaking Spirit (John 16: 13), - a Spirit whose prophesyings might be despised, and Himself quenched (1 Thess. 5: 20).  That one outpoured Spirit alone can make the unity of the Body open to the eyes of all.  1 Cor. 12: 12, 13.

 

2. But all disciples, irrespective of office, might be gifted.  Philip the evangelist did great miracles (Acts 8: 6, 13); so did the deacon Stephen.  Acts 6: 8.

 

3. A language, sometimes, not of any earthly race.  1 Cor. 13: 1.

 

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[Page 48]

THE RIGHT ATTITUDE OF THE CHURCH

 

 

Thus certain truths emerge:- that the last days will be perplexed with powers, signs and wonders; that miracles, as known to the apostles, have long ceased in the Church; that Irvingism, an instructive counterfeit, is not a manifestation of the Holy Spirit; and yet that [Divine] promises, purposes, and apparent design entitle us to miraculous gifts, which have never been revoked.  Several thoughtful disciples have been impressed with the stupendous and pregnant inference.  “They will be revived without fail,” said Dr. Horace Bushnell, “whenever the ancient reason may return, or any new contingency may occur demanding their instrumentality1 “Two forces,” says Mr. Govett, “one from within and one from without, must sooner or later compel the saints to come to settled conclusions on the question.  (1) The development of Christian truth, which under the [Holy] Spirit’s gracious enlightening is now fast taking place, must draw on the question - ‘In what relation do believers in our times stand to the gifts of old  And (2) force from without, either the infidel, or the exhibition of seeming or real miracle and inspiration on behalf of false doctrine, must enforce the discussion, at least, on the attention of the most unwilling2 “Were these,” says Dr. Elder Cumming, “and other miraculous gifts - such as [Page 49] healing diseases and casting out devils - intended to disappear from the Church, or were they meant to become her perpetual possession?  There is not a little to encourage the thought that God was willing to continue them, 3 that their use was dependant on the spiritual preparation of believers to ‘receive’ them, and that they have been lost owing to a great decay in the spiritual life and power of the Church of Christ.  There are, however, indications in the Book of Revelation, and perhaps in other portions of the Word, that miraculous gifts may again appear in the Church before the end4 The restoration of miracle to the elect remnant of Israel is a certainty of prophetic revelation. 5 On the threshold of national and religious upheavals, and the momentous spiritual crisis, shall not the Church of God lift up its hands of humble supplication for such swift and decisive power as shall wring from the lips of the modern sorcerer the cry of Egypt’s magicians - “This is the finger of God”?  [IF] The disciple’s [faith and] confidence rests on the unrecalled nature of God’s gifts (Rom. 11: 29); on the unaltered necessities of His Church, on the vital union of miracle with justification by faith; on the promise of miraculous gifts to all [obedient, repentant and humble] believers, until all reach the fulness of the stature of the Christ.  “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he [Page 50] do also; AND GREATER WORKS THAN THESE SHALL HE DO; because I go unto the Father.  And whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14: 12, 13).  Sanctification may be deep and real without miracle (John 10: 41); but, if the disciple be indeed holy,* must he not, in obedience to the command of God, seek those greater gifts which constitute prophets and apostles?  Our duty is to obey: God’s wisdom will grant, or withhold.  Then turn we to Him Who, knowing His children are but dust, stoops to give them a gracious wonder, by which we see, but darkly, some awful gleam of the Divine; purges the lips with fire; and pours forth a manifold river which makes all lands a Paradise at the touch of it, or a desolation and the haunt of Satyrs, at the will of the Lord; until its purpose be fulfilled in the accomplished faith of His elect, and His completed glory, and the river empty itself on the ocean of no Before, and no After, which God inhabits.6

 

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1. Nature and the Supernatural, p. 252.

 

2. The Church of Old, p. 198/  Nor is it conceivable, if it was a secret of God hidden from Paul that with him miraculous gifts should cease, since to him alone it belonged to confer them - a view embraced by Mr. Govett at the close of his life - that no hint was ever dropt, in all the multiplicity of their regulation, of their rapidity approaching cessation with the person of one Apostle.  It was Peter and John, not Paul, who imparted miraculous gifts to the churches of Samaria (Acts 8: 17); and “in every city.” Paul himself says, the Holy Ghost testified supernaturally (Acts 20: 23): that is, Paul found the gifts everywhere; and in places (like Assos and Miletus) where he had not been on his outward journeys.  Nor was the on-fall of the Spirit only for churches founded or visited by Paul, for it was a promise to “as many as the Lord our God SHALL CALL” (Acts 2: 39) all down the ages, and throughout all lands.

 

3. The unbeliever is quick to detect this joint in our harness.  “The Bible,” says Mr. Lecky, “neither asserts nor implies the revocation of supernatural gifts; and if the general promise that these gifts should be conferred may have been intended to apply only to the apostles, it is at least as susceptible of a different interpretation.  If these miracles were actually continued, it is surely not difficult to discover the beneficial purpose that they would fulfil  Rationalism in Europe, vol. i., p. 143.

 

4. Through the Eternal Spirit, p. 170.

 

5. See Joel 2: 28 - 3: 2, Mal. 4: 5, Matt. 23: 34, 35, Mark 13: 11, Rev. 11: 5, 6, Rev. 18: 24.  Are not prophetic hints of a restoration to the Church involved in two or three of these passages?  If Laodicea be the Church in its usual phase, it is significant that she is commanded to seek unction (Rev. 3: 18), an unction, in John, miraculous (1 John 2: 20); and the ‘sealing’ of Israel’s remnant (Rev. 7: 4), while physical, is doubtless spiritual too.  For the still future downpour of the Holy Ghost, see Earth’s Last Pentecost (Thynne & Jarvis).

 

[* See Prov. 3: 32-35; 8: 13; 11: 18, 19, 31, R.V.  The immoral Christian Church at Corinth came behind in no gift! (1 Cor. 1: 7): they “were washed,” “were sanctified” and “were justified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God” (6: 11, R.V.) - at the time of initial faith in Christ Jesus as Saviour - but, in spite of being in possession of divine all the gifts and divine blessings, they had to be reminded (by the Apostle Paul) of the loss of their inheritance in “the kingdom of God” (verse 9)! 

 

Therefore, it is absurd for any intelligent believer to imagine that supernatural and miraculous gifts will be dispensed by God to anyone (within His redeemed family) who is himself/herself disobedient, proud, immoral and unrepentant! “My son, give me thy heart; And let thine eyes delight in my ways” (Prov. 23: 26, R.V.).  “The reward of humility and the fear of Jehovah is riches, and honour, and life” (Prov. 22: 4, R.V.).  “He that is steadfast in righteousness shall attain unto life; And he that pursueth evil doeth it to his own death” (Prov. 11: 19, R.V.).]

 

6. One thing it is well to add.  The withdrawal of the spirit into the background, while he pushes forward his Christian victim to answer Scripture questions, is a constant danger.  “We all knelt in prayer, and soon the speaker with tongues began with a beautiful melodious voice under the control of a spirit.  I rose, and demanded of the spirit inspiring the lady – ‘Has Jesus Christ come in the flesh  No answer was given by the spirit.  After a short interval the lady again knelt, and in an impassioned prayer expressed her belief that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh.  Some weeks later, she said to me, - ‘The reason I had no reply to my question was the spirit had left me when you put the question  Shortly after, I put the test again.  ‘Do let the spirit get complete control of me,’ she said, ‘before you put the question to the spirit’; and shortly commenced to speak in a tongue.  Again there was no reply to my question.  Some days after, she told me - ‘the spirit left me before you asked the question’” (J. Sladen).  It is obvious that the spirit’s studied avoidance of the test is as self-revealing as a negative answer.

 

[Page 51]

1. NOTE ON THE TESTS AND THE TONGUES MOVEMENT

 

 

How grave the peril of the uninvited descent of a spirit to-day, and how acute the need of an instructed readiness for the encounter, is proved by the startling experience of Dr. A. J. Harrison, as able a Christian Evidence lecturer as the nineteenth century produced.  He says:- “On my way to a Midland town to lecture, there came upon me quite suddenly and all but irresistibly, the inclination to give, whilst adhering to the title, a lecture quite different from, though not contrary to, the one I had prepared.  The peculiarity in this case was its suddenness and intensity, and its sequel.  When I rose to deliver my lecture, a sentence quite unlike what I had prepared came from my lips.  It was followed by another and another.  I was quite conscious that I was not giving the lecture I had written, but I liked the new one better, and did not mind.  I had been speaking in this way for an hour when the wish to give the closing part of the prepared lecture overmastered the tendency to go on as I was doing.  Not without a violent effort did I free myself from whatever it was that was acting on me, and began my peroration.  I noticed that it fell rather flat, and would willingly have changed back to the other line, but that was no longer possible.  When I finished I sat down in some humiliation.  Almost immediately rose an old man with a great dome of head, and eyes that had in them a far-away look.  He said: ‘Mr, Harrison has been lecturing for an hour and a quarter.  The hour during which we all listened with delight was given by a spirit whom I saw; the quarter, which fell flat, was his own.  He resisted the spirit, and the spirit fled,’  The speaker was a well-known Spiritualist. [Page 52] At his words the audience laughed.  I did not.  Again, I have no theory to give1

 

 

The extraordinary ignorance of the Tests, inexplicable and disastrous, God suffered to be disturbed, though not removed, in Irving’s day.  Mr. Miller describes the incident thus:- “A country clergyman had two twin children, who, whilst their father and mother were away from home, for some unexplained cause began to speak, as was supposed, in prophecy, though they were only seven years old.  The parents, upon the receipt of the intelligence, immediately returned, and after observation became wholly convinced that the Holy Spirit of God was speaking through their children.  What they said at first ‘was of a heavenly character.’  But by degrees this wore off, and they gave utterance to many strange and extravagant orders, and at last forbade a marriage which was going to take place.  This brought matters to a crisis, and the passage in the Bible occurred to the parents:- ‘Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God.’  The father and his curate happened to discuss the mode of doing this in the presence of the children, when the boy cried out, ‘Ye may try the spirits in men, but ye may not try them in babes and sucklings.’  The speech had the effect of postponing the trial till the next morning, when the father determined to pursue it.  The boy again cried out in a loud voice, ‘Ye shall not try the spirit.’  The father said, ‘I will try the spirit by the word of the living God.’  The boy answered, ‘If ye try the spirit, ye shall be chastised.’  The father then read the third verse of the fourth chapter of the first Epistle of St. John, adding that it was God’s Word and that he would not be prevented, and then broke down under stress of feeling.  On this, the curate, after [Page 53] reading the same verse, put his hand on the boy’s head, and said, ‘Thou spirit which possesseth this child, wilt thou not confess that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh?’  The boy answered loudly, ‘I will not.’  When his sister was questioned she said nothing.  The evil spirit was then commanded to depart.  The boy looked pale, and was quite cold, and said he felt like a cold fluttering, and then it left him.  After a short time he cried out again that it was coming.  He was told, ‘Resist the devil and he will flee from you.’  They all prayed together, and the spirit never more returned  Mr. Miller adds:- “This was the first noticeable instance, and set Irving at one upon an examination of every spirit, and only those were allowed to prophecy who had been before approved.  The following question was put to the prophet who claimed possession of the ‘gift’: ‘O thou spirit, dost thou believe that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh?’”

 

 

The inadequacy of the testing that followed history has proved; nor could anything but failure result from the chaotic clumsiness with which the tests are almost invariably handled.  Here is a confession, supposed to be the triumph of a test, from one gifted with ‘tongues’ in Sunderland:- “I felt I must know from God Himself whether what I had received was of God or not.  I got on my knees before Him, and questioned the spirit within me: ‘Do you confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh?’  Immediately my soul was filled with the glory of God, and the Lamb of God was adored by me as never before.  I had never really known how to worship before, but the Holy Spirit in me adored Jesus; and that evening I spoke in four or five different tongues2 Here it is obvious that the test was skilfully eluded, and an emotion substituted for an answer.  Nor do the Scripture passages seem to have been even carefully read.  A well-known speaker, who has since withdrawn from the Tongues Movement, said in a Bournemouth meeting:- “By these tests you shall test them, if it be an evil spirit or the Holy Spirit. [Page 54] Now I don’t suppose for a moment that any would dare get up here, and, in their tongue or prophecy, would ever dare to; but we never know, we never know, but that Satan would send someone here, and in the midst that awful word would be uttered, ‘Jesus is accursed’; so we have the remedy and can apply the test.  Yes, in its place.  It will be shown who is to ask the question.  It is not everybody who is to test the spirit; but it would be a blessed thing sometimes to have the test, because we know that the person who is speaking is of the Lord, and the Spirit would surely witness to it with mighty praise3 Mistakes are here in every line: (1) no evil spirit, unchallenged, would dream, in a Christian assembly, of saying, “Jesus is accursed” 4; (2) if he did, no test is required; (3) every believer is empowered to put the test - ‘beloved’ (1 John 4: 1) of every age or sex or clime; (4) for anyone to be selected - presumably by the ‘utterance’ - to put the test, should rouse suspicion at once; (5) the tests most not be used ‘sometimes,’ but always, for every untested visitant; and (6) to assume that “we know that the person speaking is of the Lord” before the test is put, is to reduce the discrimination to mockery.  What use is such handling of the Scriptures against the masterly subtilties of the unseen?  For an adequate use of the tests, it must be proved, by supernatural phenomena, that a spirit-being is present; he must, to be tested, so appear that he can be isolated, in conversation, spoken or written, from the human agent; it must be certain that he answers - not suddenly falling silent, or withdrawing, so leaving (possibly) a Christian to give the correct answer; nor must any assumption of any kind be made, in confronting (as we do) the oldest and subtilest evil intelligences in the universe.  I have myself discovered a demon by the test (1 John 4: 3), and so I know that it works. 5

 

[Page 55]

Happily, all supernatural counterfeits of the gifted Apostolic Church, however long they may survive to deceive - Montanism, two centuries; the Camisards, several decades; Irvingism, so far, ninety years; the Tongues Movement,6 now sixteen [and counting] - never fail to betray, at last, by immorality, collapsed prophecies, or flagrant error, their demonic origin; and only the horrible disasters to individual lives, meanwhile, and the marring of the work of God, together with the discredit of the miraculous, make instantaneous touchstones of discrimination imperative.  Such a summary of the Tongues Movement as this, by a sober, godly observer, is the ultimate fate of all:- “False prophecies (proved so by time) have abounded 7; contrary ‘tongues’ have appeared in the same individuals; demonic possession, or at least control, came to some most deeply spiritual people, from which they were only delivered by faith and prayer upon the part of others; anathemas have been pronounced upon those who questioned, urged caution, or withstood the work; all other experiences of grace have had no relish for many unless these were in some way connected with tongues; experienced teachers, from whose tongues or pens great blessing had hitherto come, became ‘back members’ in a moment; fanciful [Page 56] strained, and the most unreasonable interpretations of the simplest Scriptures were immediately accepted, and without reflection were dogmatically and insistently preached to others; quiet, retiring, teachable natures, who were charitable to a fault, were transformed into dogmatic, unteachable, schismatic, and anathema-believing souls; salvation by grace was buried under the doctrine that without the ‘sign’ of tongues you will be lost; manifestations (such as shaking of the body, etc.) were urged and insisted upon - people were made to feel that they must have these; loud praying, shouting, and screaming were taught as essential to earnestness; mere noises, some being like the sounds of animals, passed for tongues;8 necessary work was laid aside, and missionary work neglected; responsibility to obligations was forgotten, and moral sensibilities benumbed, as though the individual was under the effect of an opiate; impressions and voices displaced the Word and providences in matters of guidance; messages in tongues were sought, obeyed and placed - practically, though unconsciously - above the more sure ‘Word of prophecy’; some, when under this power, beat their hands against the floor till they were bruised, so much so that mats had to be placed on the floor, while others pounded their lower limbs till the latter were bruised and blue9

 

 

How dreadful can be the exorcism after a supposed baptism of the Holy Spirit one of countless cases will show:- “A sister who had received the gift of tongues by the laying on of hands at the Conference at Mulheim, when it had been proved that the spirit by which she spoke was a demon, wished to be set free. 10 For several hours we prayed with, and for, her.  The spirit which had [Page 57] previously spoken of Golgotha and the Blood, of glory and of revival, now began to abuse us in ‘Tongues’ in the most fearful manner.  When we commanded him to depart in the Name of Jesus, he told us simply we need take no further trouble, he did not intend to go, we had better depart.  Then the spirit began threatening the sister in ‘Tongues.’  He was furious with her that she had betrayed him, and he threatened to destroy her.  The more we prayed, the more he raged, and cursed and swore, and threatened us.  I am not at all an emotional man, but I had the impression that the room was full of demons.  The spirit flung the sister about the room, tore and bit her body in a fearful way; we ourselves heard the spirit cursing and swearing in ‘Tongues.’  The words used were so awful that I cannot write them down.  I understood a good deal without the sister’s interpretation, for at times the spirit spoke in Latin, Italian, and some French.  Unfortunately I could only understand fragments without interpretation, as the spirit spoke very rapidly.  It is awful to think that these demons, raging, swearing and threatening to murder us, up to this time had spoken to the children of God of Golgotha and revivals, and other spiritual matters, and had been believed.  What is to become of the people of God, if they believe such demons11 Such is the very warning of our Saviour:- “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; so as to lead astray, if possible, EVEN THE ELECT.  Behold, I have told you beforehand” (Matt. 24: 24).

 

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1.  An Eventful life, p. 215; by Rev. A. J. Harrison, D.D.  So Robert Govett once told me how, while preaching, a spirit fell upon him, and closed the address and prayer in power.  Without a word to anyone, he withdrew to the vestry, and asked that, if evil, it might never be suffered to return, and it never did.  Had the all too common spiritual pride been here, which assumes that on me none but the Holy Spirit can fall, it is probable that a fresh ‘Tongues’ movement would have been born on the spot.

 

2. Irvingism, vol. i., p. 94.

 

3. Christian Herald, Dec. 5, 1907.

 

4. Showers of Blessing, No. 11

 

5. Tested, he may: “during this trying of the spirits [in Germany] one answered through a child of God, in ‘tongues,’ – ‘Cursed be Jesus Christ,’” – The Overcomer, Jan., 1910.

 

6. See Note II. in Spiritualism: Its Origin and Character, and Tests of the Supernatural (Thynne & Jarvis).

 

7.  “I know of no Tongues ‘movement,’” a prominent adherent writes to me: a Movement, nevertheless, it remains: originating in the alleged ‘latter rain’ in Los Angeles in 1907; spreading rapidly throughout the world, so that at one time it was said that thirty thousand were speaking in tongues; always manifesting identical physical phenomena; and ultimately breaking up in bitter divisions - the Movement, one in its origin throughout the world, has proved as impotent, as shorn of miracle, and now as moribund as any counterfeit that has gone before.

 

8. Missionaries were sent into the lands, with assurances, never fulfilled, that they would speak in the new dialects.  “Before leaving America,” says Mr. H. G. Garr, a foremost Tongues missionary.  “I noticed another change, but could not understand the words  But he adds:- “I suppose God would le us talk to the natives of India in their own tongue; but He did not.  So far I have not seen anyone who is able to preach to the natives in their own tongue with the languages given with the Holy Ghost.” - Supplement to Confidence, May, 1908.

 

9. In Los Angeles the animal sounds included the dog, the coyote, the cat, and the fowl.

 

10. Life of Faith, June 3, 1908.

 

11. The idea that no believer can experience the on-fall of an evil spirit is not only in itself deeply erroneous, and contrary to actual cases unnumbered, but establishes the error that whatever spirit does actually fall must be the Holy Ghost if only the recipient is truly converted.  Tests would thus be purely superfluous.

 

[Page 58]

2. NOTE ON THE RETURN OF JUDGMENT MIRACLE

 

 

In every great crisis of the world’s history God has raised up prophets, or - in an uninspired age - men of exceptional power, to meet exceptional emergencies.  Enoch and Noah before the Flood; Moses and Aaron in Egypt; all the great judges and prophets in the crises of Israel; John the Baptist:- God has never left Himself without adequate and powerful witness.  So also it has been even in uninspired ages.  The epoch of Gnosticism produced an Irenaeus.  The downfall of Rome called forth an Augustine.  The age of the Crusades found a Bernard.  When the Middle Ages were plunging into ever deeper darkness God shook the world with a Luther; and the days of the French Revolution threw up a Wesley and a Whitefield.  It is an exceedingly remarkable fact that during and after the greatest war-cataclysm the earth has ever known, a crisis rocking the nations and shaking civilization to its foundations, no prophet, no ‘wise man’ even (Matt. 23: 34), has God given to mankind.  “We see not our signs: there is no more any prophet; neither is there among us any that knoweth how long” (Ps. 74: 9).  Now there must be a profound reason for this; and as we ponder it, in conjunction with all the other thronging signs about us, the conviction, fraught with startling power, dawns on the mind that God is probably clearing the decks as He forges instruments in the unseen of extraordinary power to meet a situation utterly unparalleled in the history of the world.

 

 

For suddenly, with no warning, no birth, no genealogy, two Witnesses (Rev. 11: 3) - a witness is a man who says that he knows, and knows what he says - appear on the earth endowed at once with full miraculous powers, and miraculous powers so extraordinary as to challenge the [Page 59] attention of the whole world.  If (as the Early Church believed) they are Enoch and Elijah 1, God’s last accredited ambassadors are a Gentile and a Jew, sent to Jew and Gentile; prophets of the first rank, who have sojourned with God for thousands of years; clothed in sackcloth, because charged with woe for an entire world; sudden arrivals on earth who are sent of God to mankind in its last dreadful extremity in order to expound to men, beyond all possibility of misunderstanding, the coming judgments in the light of human sin, and as witnesses of a mercy still lingering.  Peculiarly fitted by their past history* to be God’s ambassadors - Enoch the prophet of Antediluvian, and Elijah of Jewish, apostasy - no two persons so stand out in the last drama, protagonists of their two mighty opponents - making up the last world-four - the Antichrist and the False Prophet, who appear equally miraculously, coming up from beneath as the two Witnesses came down from above, and almost simultaneously.  Against the dreadful onrush of evil, Gospel agencies, now slowly collapsing, are superseded by human instruments of unprecedented power, a final nexus between grace and judgment.

 

 

For, as the public preaching of these two mighty prophets lasts for three and a half years before the Antichrist appears [in his true colours, by demonstrating of his evil intentions] their testimony is God’s merciful and stupendous warning [against Christian apostasy and] of the approach of the Kingdom of Satan.  “They shall prophesy a thousand, two hundred and three-score days, clothed in sackcloth  They expound the Scriptures, foretell the future, unveil coming damnation, demand obedience to Jehovah, and labour with all their might to turn mankind to God.  And their preaching is unparalleled in its effect because, by the authorization of God, they wield powers more tremendous than have ever been committed to mortals.  “They have power to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they shall desire.”  So charged are they with power and wisdom, not only by their [Page 60] experience in earlier apostasies, but by thousands of years’ sojourn with God, and so filled with His Spirit, that they can be trusted with Heaven’s most potent weapons.  Their judgment warnings are constantly illustrated and evidenced by judgment acts; and but for this extraordinary evangel, by which Israel is roused (Mal. 4: 6), and during which the Latter Rain is doubtless in full downpour, the whole race would yield to Antichrist.  The mightiest ministries on earth have been the shortest, and this brief embassy will be (after our Lord’s, with which it is identical in duration) pregnant beyond any ever known.

 

 

The self-defence with which the Witnesses are clothed is an extraordinary revelation of the last state of the world.** Sojourn with God for thousands of years brings them down - as Moses descended saturate with light from the Mount - steeped with miraculous power; and power not like the Apostles’, to heal, but charged with self-defence in an age of unsurpassed physical dangers.  “If any man desireth to hurt them fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and” - armed as they are against the most stealthy attack, and even against un unuttered conspiracy - “if any man shall desire to hurt them, in this manner must be killed  Such will be human violence and wickedness, at the end, that no gospel witnesses, harmless as doves, could possibly survive for twelve hundred and sixty days: God therefore introduces evangelists against whom the bullet, the bomb, the gas, the arsenic, the dagger fall powerless.

 

 

So the crisis of the drama arrives.  “And when they shall have finished their testimony” - we are immortal [stop-gaps] only so long as our witness lasts; immediately that is over, our immunity from physical danger ceases – “the Wild Beast” - appearing for the first time as such - “shall make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them*** as they confront one another in the streets of Jerusalem.  After three years and a half the power from the sojourn with God on high leaks and decays, even as the light on Moses’ face slowly waned; assailed, in the unequal struggle - for the words imply a prolonged combat - by an immortal whom Christ alone can consume “with the breath of His [Page 61] mouth,” they ultimately fall dead before the Antichrist.+  Vast multitudes swarm into Jerusalem to see the unburied corpses.  No more devouring flame issues from the gastly lips.  It is strictly prohibited that the bodies should be buried.  As the last restraint to the nations throwing off Jehovah and His Christ; as hated as much for their holiness as for their judgments; above all, as apparently proving by their death, with startling certainty, that the international god-emperor is more powerful than Jehovah, the nations, mad with joy gloat over the corpses and hold festivals of triumph; and from over the unburied corpses the cry goes forth into all lands, - “Who is able to make war with him

 

 

But their very abandonment by God (as it appears) is a masterstroke of mercy.  For “after the three days and a half the breath of life from God” - a phrase which reveals to us the secret of resurrection; one of the Seven Spirits from before the Throne, the Spirit of life physical - “entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and they went up into heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them  One visible rapture is a more awful and more powerful rebuke than the deaths of a thousand martyrs; for it contains the whole of the facts of judgment demonstrated in a single act of God.  Could God give the world a more potent, and therefore a more merciful, demonstration that the Gospel facts are true?  For the revivified and ascending corpses demonstrate our Lord’s empty tomb: the resurrection before their eyes makes certain the far greater resurrection two millenniums earlier, and so proves to all the world the truth of the Faith of Christ.  But beyond stunning and staggering amazement, it seems to have little effect.  Earth’s massed millions, playing for the highest stakes and risking all on their final throw, suddenly discover, to their horror, that they have staked and lost.  Resurrection, rapture, heaven, [Hades and] hell - all the truths they most derided - burst upon them like a thunderbolt; and a devastating earthquake rocks the physical under them, as the rapture had rocked the spiritual.  Heaven opens before their eyes; but it is only to remove their murdered enemies into safety, and to [Page 62] open fresh horrors for men who love sin more than they love God.  The fear that will fall on the terrified nations - “the rest were affrighted” - is curiously illustrated by a speech obtained in the death-throes of the French Revolution by the secret service of the British Government.  The Inner Circle of the Committee of Public Safety, the all-powerful Nine - terrorists drunk with blood and now themselves maddened with terror - met the secret conclave on September  3, 1793, and Herbert spoke as follows:- “I cannot see light where it is dark: I cannot see roses where there are only daggers.  You will all perish.  It cannot be otherwise.  I do not know whether it has been well or ill done to bring the thing to where it is.  But there it is!  We shall all perish, and those who have done like us.  If they promised us an amnesty, you would only be stabbed or poisoned instead of being quartered.  In tying let us leave to our enemies the germs of their own death; and in France so great a destruction that the mark of it will never die  Such will be the terror that will fall upon the murder gangs of the world when God’s last ambassadors of mercy disappear, and Jehovah rises up to final wrath.

 

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1. For proofs see Govett’s Apocalypse: of all possible books for the last days I can imagine none more needed, more urgent, or more vital than this commentary on the Revelation.

 

* Others believe Moses will appear as the unnamed Witness because of God’s judgments in Egypt and his appearance with Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration.

 

** That is, at the end of this evil age - which will introduce nature’s promised “rest” (Heb. 4: 1, 11. cf. Num. 14: 20-24; Rom. 8: 18-25, R.V.).

 

*** Here is Biblical proof that the “heaven” into which Elijah ascended is not the highest heaven where our Lord Jesus is presently seated at His Father’s right hand awaiting His inheritance here, (Psa. 2: 8. cf. Ps. 110: 1-3).  “No man,” says the Apostle John, “hath ascended into heaven,” - presumably that highest heaven where Christ now bodily present - “but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven” (3: 13, R.V.). 

 

For regenerate believers to enter that “heaven” requires a ‘change’ - from mortality to immortality - it is a Divine miracle at the time of the rapture of those who will “prevail to escape all these things {the Great Tribulation events} that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21: 36ff.).  There is no mention of this needed ‘change’ (1 Cor. 15: 44, 51, 52) to have taken place at the time of Elijah’s ascension into heaven: and all who believe that “the resurrection is past already … overthrow the faith of some”! (2 Tim. 2: 18, R.V.)!  It is a great misunderstanding of the time of the Resurrection of the dead: and it is what the Spiritualists believe and teach!

 

As the high priest of old obtained permission from God to enter the “holy of holies” once a year, he dared not enter without having on the special clothing commanded by God; clothing which only he was permitted to wear for his entrance into the most holy place!  So, also, with our High Priest, Jesus the Christ, His Resurrection and Ascension took place after His sojourn of “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12: 40), and consequently after “he also shewed himself alive after his passion by many proofs, appearing unto them by the space of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God” (Acts. 1: 3, R.V.)  See John 20: 9, 17 and Acts 2: 29-36, R.V.

 

Always keep in mind: the Scriptures never speaks of the RAPTURE of the DEAD, nor of the RESURRECTION of the LIVING; for Resurrection embraces the whole man - his disembodied ‘soul’ together with his unredeemed ‘body’ (Rom. 8: 23b, R.V.): and animating ‘spirit’ “For … the body apart from the spirit is dead…” (Jas. 2: 26a, R.V.).  To speak of ‘the resurrection of the body,’ – (an expression I head used in a Presbyterian Church) - is unscriptural: and on that occasion the expression was used when the preacher was expounding 2 Tim. Ch. 2! This begs one to ask the question: ‘Is he wilfully compromising with a truth of God expressed in verse18 which he knows, in order to avoid offending many in his congregation’?  If so, he would do well to remember that one reason why King Saul lost his ‘crown’ was because he “feared the people and obeyed their voice” (1 Sam. 15: 24b, R.V.).

 

See FOOTNOTE 1 “Are the Dead Alive?” by Mr. W. H. Bacon

 

+ I have used italics here to distinguish “the Antichrist” form all others who were types of the one yet to appear, whom all nations will follow.

 

 

3. NOTE ON PASSIVITY

 

 

Passivity, a most dangerous inducement of spirit action, yields to a tyrannical control, often irresistible, which is a constant characteristic of demon possession.  Paul has disclosed the truth once for all.  “If a revelation be made to another [prophet] sitting by, let the first [prophet] keep silence; FOR ye all can prophecy one by one” – ye have it in your power to speak supernaturally in turn; “and the spirits of the prophets” - the motions of the Holy Ghost in the inspired - “ARE SUBJECT to the prophets” (1 Cor. 14: 30).  “The absence of the article,” as Dean Stanley observes, “implies that the control of the prophetic utterances by the wills of the prophets was an essential part of the prophetic character

 

 

So the early Christian authors found here a touchstone if inspiration discriminating the Satanic from the Divine.  Chrysostom says:- “When anyone in the temples of the idols was possessed by an unclean spirit and uttered divinations, he was violently removed like one who is being forcibly carried away [1 Cor. 12: 2], being under subjection to the spirit: for this is a peculiar mark of the soothsayer to be in an ecstasy, to suffer constraint, to be under a violent impulse, to be exceedingly removed, to be agitated like one mad.  But a prophet is not so: for the prophets had it in their own power either to speak, or not to speak; for they were not impelled by force, but were honoured with power

 

 

History confirms the judgment and illuminates the revelation.  One of the Camisards says:- “I was surprised with a shivering all over me, and my tongue and lips were of a sudden forced to pronounce words with vehemence that I was amazed to hear  The supernatural utterance in Irvingism let fall this threat:- “If ye, O vessel, who speak, refuse to speak the word, ye shall utterly perish”; 1. [Page 63] and the earliest ‘prophetess.’ “unable to restrain her utterance, hastened from the church, and in the hearing of the congregation broke forth in an ‘utterance’ - ‘How dare ye to suppress the voice of the Lord?’”  But far the most graphic is the experience of Canon A. A. Boddy, of Sunderland, in the Tongues Movement:- “I awoke feeling my jaws working on their own account; my jaws and tongue began to work, but there was no voice.”  He adds:- “It seemed as if an iron hand was laid upon my jaws.  Both jaws and tongue were worked by this unseen power2

 

 

Momentous thus becomes the decision - made by many devout [and regenerate] souls - to yield to an untested spirit, for it may prove to be the acceptance of a tyranny from which there is no escape.  “In May, 1909, in India,” says Mr. G. H. Lang, “when engaged with two friends in prolonged, and (as it proved) effective prayer, about midnight an inward suggestion was suddenly and powerfully made to me in these words:- ‘Just yield yourself now, and you shall speak with a tongue - only just yield  For a moment I hesitated, and wondered, but promptly and pointedly rejected the suggestion, which was not repeated.  Now had it been the Spirit of God whom I had thus spurned, would that have followed which did follow - that I was able to pray more joyously and believingly and triumphantly than ever before in my life3 He who yields to an untested spirit does it in despite of the Holy Scriptures, and at the peril of his life.*

 

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1. Narrative of Facts, p. 27.

 

2. The Modern Gift of Tongues, p. 36; by G. H. Lang.

 

3. Ibid., p. 34.

 

* See 1 Kings 13: 18-24, cf. Gal. 1: 8.

 

*       *       *

 

 

FOOTNOTE

 

 

ARE THE DEAD ALIVE?

 

By Mr. W. H. Bacon.

 

 

“The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor. 15: 56); and we venture to assert that the strength of Spiritism is the lie, and faith in the lie, that the dead are alive, and since these articles may fall into the hands of some who are not regular readers of Things to Come, we think it may be well to follow up what has already been stated, and to prove from the Scriptures the fact that death is death, for only be this means cam Spiritism be successfully combated.

 

 

Let a man be thoroughly convinced that death is actually the cessation of life, and he will surely cease from the folly and wickedness of [believing what Spiritism teaches and] seeking to the dead; but man has so strongly imbibed the lie that “there is no death, what seems so is transition,” and he so firmly believes that, whatever it means for the ungodly, for the believer it is translation to heaven, and that “sudden death is sudden glory,” and he falls an easy pray to the Spiritist who tells him that he can summon his departed dear ones from the mansions of bliss to assure him of their happiness and through their enlarged capabilities guide him on his earthly path.

 

 

No! death is not yet abolished.  It shall be in the coming day when “Death and Hades shall be cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20: 14).  But as yet death reigns, and only One has escaped from its grasp.  Hear what Paul writes of God to Timothy, “Who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but hath now been manifested by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who abolished death, and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Tim. 1: 9, 10).

 

 

Herein we learn the mind and purpose of God set forth in regard to the future.  Death is to be destroyed; it has already been destroyed in toto.  “The last enemy that shall be destroyed id death” (1 Cor. 15: 26).

 

 

“Behold, I shew you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.  For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.  So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory’” (1 Cor. 15: 51-54).

 

 

We have heard preachers say that death is a friend and we have read it in their sermons.  How little do such preachers know or understand that they are fighting against God, in denying the truth of His Holy Word.  “The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15: 26), and in maintaining that death is a friend, ushering us into the [Heavenly] presence of the Lord, they are supporting the Spiritist lie that “There is no death,” as do also those persons who teach that death is “translation,” for that is what present-day teaching amounts to.

 

 

As to the righteous, who are all at death sent to heaven by the preachers, when shall we believe the doctrine of Christ, who, when He was on earth, plainly declared the truth as follows: “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven even the Son of man which is in heaven”!  And note the significance of the words that immediately follow: “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3: 13-15).

 

 

Some may say, “Ah! yes, that was said before His death and resurrection, but since His resurrection, all that die in faith ascend into heaven at once  Pray, then, where had they who died before Christ’s resurrection been in the meantime? For the Word of the Lord is that “No man hath ascended up to heaven but He that came down from heaven  And then what are we to do with the revelation given after the Ascension of the Lord Jesus by the Spirit of God, [speaking] through the Apostle Peter, and recorded in the following words:- “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day” (Acts 2: 29), and in verse 34, “David is not ascended into the heavens  Could words be plainer?  Do we wish to wrest the Scriptures, to overcome the Scriptures?  The words quoted express the exact state of the case, and that should be sufficient for us all.  “David is not ascended into the heavens  He “died in faith and in due time will be raised from the dead, according to the Scriptures, and this enhances the truth and value of resurrection in our eyes, when we grasp the true position of things.

 

 

The “hope” set before us is Eternal Life with which are coupled Glory, Honour and Immortality; “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the Forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus” (Heb. 6: 19, 20).  There is manifestly only one Forerunner - THE Forerunner – and this is surely confirmed by the Word of the Lord, for the dead are spoken of as “asleep,” and “sleep” we know full well is used as a figure of death, exemplified in the case of Lazarus.  “Lazarus sleepeth” (John 11: 11).  Then said Jesus unto them plainly, “Lazarus is dead” (verse 14), and resurrection is spoken of as an awakening out of sleep.  Note that Lazarus came forth from the grave, not down from “heaven” (verse 44).  “But I would not have you be ignorant, brethren, concerning them that are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, them also which sleep in Jesus will GOD bring with Him.  For this we say unto you by the Word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (anticipate, or go before) them which are asleep

 

 

“For the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thess. 4: 13-17), and verily not until then.  The reference is not to bodies only, but to [whole] PERSONS.*

 

[* For it is impossible for the souls of dead, - (now in the underworld of “HadesActs 2: 27, 34. cf. Rev. 6: 9-11; Luke 16: 22, 31) - to ascend into heaven without their bodies being redeemed (Rom. 8: 23, R.V.) and reunited to them.  Our Lord’s death and His subsequent resurrection “out of dead ones” (Lit. Greek).  Only after His sojourn in “Hades” (Acts 2: 31) for “three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12: 40); and the empty tomb, where His body lay motionless inside the grave-clothes, bound together with “a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pound weight … with the spices” (John 19: 39, 40, R.V.) did His RESURRECTION occur: and on that morning He said to Mary: “Touch me not, for I have not yet ascended to my FATHER…” (John 20: 17).]

 

 

It may be asked, “What has all this to do with Spiritism  We reply, “A very great deal”: for we desire to prove from the Word of God that the dead are actually dead [in Hades]; for if this fact is substantiated, Spiritism can make no headway, where the Word of God is believed and accepted as authoritative.

 

 

Spiritists are very fond of seeking to prove that the dead are “alive” by the record of the appearance of Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration, and by the account of the bringing up of Samuel, and we will therefore deal with these cases according to the Word of the Lord.

 

 

Moses was the representative of the Law, but he had sinned, and was not permitted to enter the land of Canaan, and we read in Deut. 34: 5, 6, “So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the Word of the Lord.  And He (the Lord) buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor; but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day

 

 

Now, if we turn to the Epistle of Jude (and it is not a chance record, for it is the Word of God), we find these words (verse 9), “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke thee.’”

 

 

To our mind it is obvious that Moses was required for the Divine purpose.  But Moses was dead and buried, and, as all things are possible with God, Michael was commissioned to raise Moses from the dead that he might converse with the Lord Jesus and Elijah on the Mount.

 

 

We can well understand the resistance of the devil in the light of Heb. 2: 14.  “For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil But death and the devil are not destroyed as yet, although, of course, they will be in due time, and the Scripture is true: “But now we see not yet all things put under Him.  But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that He by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb. 2: 8, 9).

 

 

In all probability Moses when back to death [and to that place where our Lord called “Paradise” (Luke 23: 43, R.V.).] for the time being; but one thing is certain, and that is that Moses had died, and it was therefore necessary that he should be raised again before he could meet the Lord and converse with Him.

 

 

In respect of Elijah he was removed from earth to heaven without dying.  “And it came to pass, as they (Elijah and Elisha) still went on and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven” (2 Kings 2: 11).  We must remember that there are heavens and heavens.  “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is” (Deut. 10: 14).

 

 

We are persuaded that Elijah is not in the heaven of heavens in the immediate presence of God, for no man [not having immortality, can enter THERE,] see God and live.  “And He said, thou canst not see My face; for there shall not see ME, and live” (Ex. 33: 20).  We should suppose that Enoch, who was translated, and Elijah, are together, and possibly ministered to by angels, and that they are [as many within the early Church believed] the two witnesses referred to in Rev. 11: 3-12, who are yet to die, and to be raised again after three days and a half (verse 11).

 

 

Now, in regard to the raising of Samuel, this was undoubtedly the over-ruling act of GOD.  The Witch of Endor had a familiar spirit, a demon who attached himself to her, who would personate the dead; and, from the record (1 Sam. 28), it is obvious that Saul did not see anyone but the witch, for he appeals to her in the words, “What seest thouthe reply being, “I see gods ascending out of the earth  These evil spirits evidently came at the bidding of the witch, and upon Saul’s putting the question, “What form is he of the LORD GOD intervenes and raises up the Prophet Samuel and the witch says now, “An old man (not a god or a spirit, please observe), cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle.  And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself” (verse 14).  It is instructive to notice that Samuel came up from the earth (gravedom [from “Sheol” = Gk. “Hades”]), and not down from heaven.  The words of the witch were, “An old man cometh up and in verse 9 we learn that he went back to [the underworld of the dead] and the grave, for speaking to Saul, he says: “To-morrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me i.e., in death [into “Sheol” (see Gen. 37: 35, R.V.)] and the grave.  The temporary resurrection of Samuel we affirm was the over-ruling act of God, and his appearance of Samuel, therefore, is no proof at all that the dead are alive, as Spiritists and others assert.

 

 

THE END