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extend beyond that period, during which, faith sufficient to embrace the promise and to inherit the gifts, was bestowed upon very many of the members of the infant and struggling Church. If otherwise, if we must believe that this was an ordinary promise of God, can we imagine that there never should have been one of the holy army of martyrs, never one of the
, blessed followers of the apostles, after the two first centuries, never, again, one of the reformers who should have received faith sufficient for its fulfilment, or have been enabled to speak one word in “ the power,” which is now supposed to be possessed by men, and women, and children in our streets ? O, truly, the absurdity of such
? a notion is so palpable, that we are almost led to doubt that the devil, that cunning spirit, could have any hand in weaving a web of so slight and frail a texture; and, indeed, had not its meshes been of sufficient strength to have taken and secured some of whom we had hoped better
things, we never could have attributed so feeble a work to so artful and so powerful an agent.
But some will reply to this argument, of none of the people of God having been so gifted during 1500 years, that it is founded upon a mistake in facts, that such men have continually risen up, but that their testimony has been refused, their evidence suppressed, their wonderful works overlooked or disbelieved. This then leads us to the second head of our inquiry.
II. We proceed to try the pretensions of those of whom we speak by the experience of the Church.
Let us first examine the opinions of two of those holy men who adorned the Church of the Redeemer at the close of the fourth and during the early years of the fifth century, St. Chrysostom and St. Augustine, that we may see how far even in those days, probably of far greater spirituality than the present, there was any the remotest idea, that the extraordinary is left."*
gifts of the Holy Spirit either were, or ought to have been, at that time enjoyed by the Church.
We will take first the testimony of Chrysostom. These are his decisive words. “Of miraculous powers not even a vestige
And again : “ So then to seek after miracles is the part of the tempters of Christ both then and now. For there are also, even now, those who seek for them, and say, Why are there no miracles now ? Because, if your faith is what it ought to be, and you love Christ as you ought to love him, you have no need of miracles. For these things are given to unbelievers ;" + i. e., for the benefit of unbelievers. I need hardly beg you to remark the contrast between the opinion of Chrysostom with those of whom we are speaking; they, considering extraordinary
* De Sacerd. lib. iv. Op. ed. Sav. vol. vi. p. 35.
+ Chrysost. Hom. 24, in Johann. c. ii. v. 25. Op. ed. Sav. v. ii. p. 650.
gifts a proof of great faith—he, on the contrary, stating, that if our faith were what it ought to be, we should neither need nor desire such gifts.
But let us turn to Augustine, one of the holiest and most faithful of the followers of our Lord. Did he work miracles? Did he speak in “ the power”? Did he believe the gifts to be the heritage of the Church, and for which she was responsible? Let him answer for himself. the primitive times,” he says, “ the Holy Spirit fell upon believers, and they spoke in tongues which they had not learnt, as the Spirit gave them utterance. These wese signs suitable to the time. For it was right that the Holy Spirit should be thus borne witness of in all tongues, because the Gospel of God was about to travel through all tongues throughout the world. That testimony being given, it passed away."* And again, “ Is the Holy
August. in Ev. Johann. C. 4. Tract 6, § 10. Ed. Nen. tom. iii. p. 2, col. 868.
Spirit, then, brethren, not given now? Whoever thinks this, is not worthy to receive it. It is given now. Why, then, does no one speak in the tongues of all nations, as he spake who was then filled with the Holy Spirit ? Why? Because that which was signified by it is fulfilled.
What was then promised is now fulfilled. .. .. Let no one, therefore, say, I have received the Holy Spirit; why do not I speak in the tongues of all nations? If you would live by the Holy Spirit, hold fast Christian love, adhere to the truth, seek to promote unity, that you may attain eternal life.” *
What a remarkable contrast do the obviously Scriptural views, the plain and practical good sense of this holy and most highly talented man, form to the fancies of those who profess to take a far higher stand, and would have us believe that all these Christian graces are as nothing, unless we are * Serm. 267. Ed. Bened. tom. v., col. 1089, 1090.