Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

has ever been debarred, was that Spirit of adoption, that converting, guiding, sanctifying grace, which is bestowed indiscriminately upon all the members of the family of our heavenly Father.

But if this negative testimony be so conclusive, how much is it corroborated by the verse which follows. The Evangelist continues, "Fear came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were done” -by whom? by the three thousand ? no! but “ by the apostles.” Now, had these miracles been performed; had those extraordinary gifts been shared by all the new converts as well as by the apostles, is it probable that the evangelist, in his description of the lives of these new converts, would have turned aside to introduce, almost parenthetically, the names of the apostlesalone, as the workers of these wonders and signs ?* If, then, this fact

* There is no doubt, that on other occasions, as for instance, to the Gentile converts at the house of Cornelius, Acts x. 46, and to St. Paul's twelve converts

stood alone, it would be better than a thousand arguments, to prove that the exposition of the passage in St. Mark, given in all ages by the Church, is the true one; viz., that the promise of the Saviour was limited both as to time and as to persons; that it extended to many, certainly not to all true believers in the days of the apostles, and that it continued, probably two centuries in the Church, until the great work of firmly establishing the cross upon the ruins of heathenism was effected, when this miraculous aid was withdrawn, because the necessities of the infant Church no longer rendered it indispensable.

I said that if this argument stood alone,

at Ephesus, Acts xix. 6, “ the gift of the Holy Ghost " was accompanied by the gift of miraculous powers, but the very fact that it is there stated to have been so accompanied, only strengthens the probability that on the day of Pentecost it was not so accompanied, and therefore tends to prove what we desire to establish.

it would be unanswerable: but it does not stand alone-far, very far from it. For instance. They who maintain, from the passage in St. Mark already quoted, that the promise is universal, and that all who believe, ought to be enabled to perform these wonderful works, should, if consistent, assert also, that all who believe, ought to be able to perform all these wonderful works; for it does not promise that they “shall speak with new tongues ;" or “ take up serpents ;” or “ drink any deadly thing,” but anddo each of these wonderful acts; therefore, if their mode of interpretation be correct, every believer should be able to perform every miracle which is here promised,-a power which we have no certain knowledge was ever possessed by any individual, our blessed Lord alone excepted, since the world began.

Before leaving this part of our subject, I would offer yet another argument, which appears to possess the greatest weight. Acknowledge, for a moment, that the promise of miraculous gifts had been as these persons pretend, the daily heritage of the Church throughout the last eighteen centuries. Then what must we also acknowledge? We must believe that, during fifteen centuries, God has never seen fit to bestow such a proportion of Faith upon any individual in his Church as would be sufficient for his enjoyment of these promised gifts. Is this analogous to any other of God's dealings with his people ? Can these persons, can any body point out an instance of any ordinary promise of God, by which I mean a promise intended for all times, equivalent to which, God has not in some, yea, in many cases, in every generation of Christians, given faith to embrace and to profit by it? Take, for example, the simple and beautiful promise given in the tenth chapter of Romans : “ If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." Now here is a promise as entirely beyond the grasp of every child of Adam, unless He who gives the promise gives also faith to receive, to appreciate, and, therefore, to enjoy it, as the promise of power to heal the sick, or to cast out devils. And yet there has never been one humble sincere follower of the Lord Jesus Christ during these eighteen centuries who has sought faith sufficient to act upon this promise and has not found it. Whence is this ? Simply because a merciful God would not so mock his people as to propose to them a promise, intended for all times and all persons, without, of his goodness, as freely bestowing power for its fulfilment. How, then, can we reconcile this with the fact that, as regards the promise of extraordinary gifts, no such faith has been bestowed, no such power been given ? Simply by believing, what appears quite undeniable, that such gifts were never made the objects of an ordinary promise, were never intended to

« НазадПродовжити »