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tles was the gift of languages; "they began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance'" Let it not be said that the auditors were not judges of the languages which they heard. All certainly were not judges of all; but each foreigner present was a judge of his own language. The Parthian, the Mede, the Elamite, &c., could not be mistaken; and I have no doubt but that the object of the miracle was clearly apprehended by them all, particularly, as on "the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls"." When the world consisted of one nation, one language was sufficient; but divine providence designed another arrangement, and the confusion of languages at Babel was the first manifestation of the design. After this, it is imagined, the boundaries of countries began to be distinguished, and separate nations to be established. A separation of language soon followed. Every great nation had its own language; derived, it may be, from one ancient original, corrupted and changed by colonies or migration. It is not, however, my intention to discuss the origin of languages. I have no doubt that He who planted the tongue and gave man knowledge, taught the use of that articulation which he had so graciously bestowed. At present the question is of a different nature. Consistent with the circumstances of this miracle, and the immediate and indispensable neces
1 Acts ii. 4.
2 Acts ii. 41.
sity of preaching the Gospel to nations already established, the purpose could not be effected, but by messengers of Christianity carrying their own languages along with them. "We hear every man in our language wherein we were born; we hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God."
It has been thought probable by good men, that "if the conversion of infidels were attempted by men of honest and sincere minds, God would extraordinarily countenance such a design;" and another observes, "that which would induce a man to hope well in this case is, that without some such miraculous gift there is little or no probability of the conversion of infidel nations, unless some prince of great reputation might give advantage by planting Christianity among his subjects." What an hundred years ago was thought improbable or impossible, recent instances prove may be accomplished in another manner. God works his own ends by his own measure. The difficulty of conversion has been removed without the intervention of miracle in the ordinary sense of the word; and yet sufficiently declared as the work of a superintending providence. Nations, remote, uncivilized, barbarous, separated from countries by a vast expanse of ocean, enjoying, in a greater or less degree, the inestimable blessing of Gospel-knowledge, if not perfectly converted, are placed in the way of conversion by the
1 Nelson and Tillotson.
patient industry, persevering energy, and spiritual efforts of very eminent and exemplary missionaries. Here no miraculous gift of tongues was necessary, but the whole was effected by learning the languages of the people who were the objects of their piety. This is quite in accordance with the plan of providence, and so far confirmative of the miracle of this day. It was necessary that one should be immediate and effective; the other, both in population and language was progressive; both, therefore, were appropriate to their peculiar seasons. The progress of the Gospel in the islands of the South Seas, and in the regions of the
East, is indeed a silent miracle.
Tongues, unknown become familiar to
to all preceding generations, have every modern ear. the Bible been translated by the assiduous piety, even of private societies? The miracle, therefore, continues among us; and the flowing of the Gospel-stream is in full operation, and affords convincing proof, that "the hand of the Lord is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear '."
Into how many languages has not
2. The next gift of the Holy Spirit to the apostles was the gift of inspiration. Of this gift, the teaching and preaching of the apostles offer sufficient evidence; and with the Scriptures before us, it is the less necessary to enlarge on this subject. This was the express promise of our Lord; "when he, the Spirit of truth,
1 Isaiah lix. 1.
is come, he will guide you into all [the] truth '." How they preached, and how they taught, how they laboured, and what was the success of their labours, are weighty inquiries, in which we are all concerned ! Faith is a personal feeling; and, therefore, how we hear, is an important question for us to answer. Here indeed lies the burthen. Are we converted by their preaching? Are we as desirous as they were to know nothing but Christ crucified? Have we renounced the world's vanities, and are our faces set towards Jerusalem? This is the test, while we are yet sojourners in a foreign country. May the same divine Spirit of truth take us into his holy keeping, and guide us by his heavenly grace; and may "the Almighty God, who gave to his holy apostles grace truly to believe and preach the word, grant unto the holy Church to love that word which they believed, and both to preach and receive the same, through Jesus Christ our Lord 2."
3. The third gift of the Spirit was Miracle. On the day of the descent, the miracle was performed on the apostles; they spake with new tongues, languages differing from their native tongue; in the future progress of their mission, the miracle, whatever it was, came by the apostles, performed in the name, and through the power of their glorified Master: "in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk "."
1 John xvi. 13.
2 Collect for the Feast of St. Bartholomew.
3 Acts iii. 6.
The apostolic mission thus miraculously disclosed, generally considered, concentrates all that has been previously said concerning the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. The gifts and graces of the Spirit which descended on the apostles became of perpetual obligation by the manifestation of the heavenly commission, formerly conferred by our Lord when he said, "Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world 1."
I do not propose to detail the history of succeeding generations as connected with this great question; but, as teachers of the Gospel and ministers of the Church of Christ, holding an authority, communicated by himself, the apostles were, decidedly and declaredly, the representatives of that holy band, which has descended from this stem; and will continue in the union of Christ's Church, till the end shall come, when Christ shall deliver up his kingdom to the Father.
The graces and miraculous powers with which the apostles were endowed are, what the apostle Paul emphatically calls, The demonstration of the Spirit and of power. My speech and preaching," says he, "was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in the demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God':" signifying to us that the pillars of the Christian cause did not rest upon the
1 Matt. xxviii. 20.
21 Cor. ii. 4, 5.