« EelmineJätka »
tering and speaking nonsense. Again the command came from Mrs. C., and the power upon me, and I used the same words over him again. Lady
who was present, and had before once or twice spoken in the power; under an impulse of the power, rose up, and stretching her hands towards me, cried out in power, “Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world:' and repeating this several times, sank down on the floor. We all paused. The muttering and disgusting utterances continued. Mr. Irving suggested, “This kind goeth not forth but with prayer and fasting.' We were, however, confounded, and the only explication I could suggest was, that the word of God had gone forth for the expulsion of the evil spirit, and we must rest in faith, that in due time the effect would follow, and the man be delivered ; and so we parted.
“ The reader will be ready to ask, Did not this open your eyes to the nature of the power working in you? But no-perplexed as we all were, and troubled also, yet it is so fearful a thing to doubt what you have been acknowledging and serving as the Spirit of God, that whenever doubt came over us, we thought it a temptation, and resisted it.”
The coincidence between the following observations and those quoted from Brainerd is striking :--
“ The instances of such obvious discernment of thoughts are so numerous as to take away the possibility of their being accidental coincidences. In the case of one individual, when praying in silence in her own room, in three or four distinct instances, answers were given, in the power, by a gifted person sitting in the adjoining room. And in almost all the persons with whom I have conversed, who were brought into a belief of the power, instances of obvious discernment of their thoughts, or references to their particular state of mind, have been so striking, as to conduce to their recognition of the power. This is a very mysterious dispensation; but as a spirit of divination, when any put themselves unfaithfully under the influence of the power, it certainly is able, and does make manifest the thoughts of their hearts, imitating the manner in which we may suppose the spirit of the prophets in the Corinthian church laid open the thoughts of the unbeliever, as referred to by the Apostle. Indeed, the whole work is a mimicry of the gifts of the Spirit---the utterance, in tongues, a mimicry of the gift of tongues---and so of the prophesyings, and all the other works of the power."
It is not a little remarkable that similar scenes took place in the early rise of Quakerism, and that in connection with doctrine of a cast so similar to that of Irving, that the works of Penington, one of the leading mystics amongst them, are at the present time much read amongst the leading Irvingites ; Penington, affirming that they were careful always to distinguish between Christ and the garment which he wore, and never to call the bodily veil Christ.
Leslie, the well-known author of the Short and Easy Method with the Deists, gives (vol. ii., p. 264.) the following account of one of these manifestations, in a person named Gilpin, who was converted to Quakerism in 1653. Gilpin's account is as follows:
“That he earnestly desired to have the quaking and trembling fits, (which were then very frequent among them) thinking, as they taught him, that this was the manifestation of the light within, and its strugglings to overcome our corruptions, that at last they came upon him so violently, that he could not stand upon his feet, but fell down, trembling, quaking, howling, and crying in such a terrible and hideous manner, as astonished all his family; that he was pleased with this, thinking it the pangs of the new birth.
Again, at a meeting where C. Atkinson and John Audland preached, and in the time of his (J. Audland's) speaking, I was (says Gilpin) by the power within me, drawn from the chair on which I sat and thrown upon the ground, in the midst of the company, where I lay all night ; all which time, my body and all the members of it were still in motion. In all which actions and motions I acted not in the least degree by a natural power of mine own, neither did I resist or could I resist that power which acted upon me, but was altogether passive. I was persuaded that it was the immediate power of Christ, and heard, to my thinking, a voice speaking to me, and saying, that that writing with my hand upon the ground did signify the writing of the law within my heart. Having lain all night upon the ground in the manner aforesaid, the Power (as before in other actions), moved my hands to my head and laid them upon the top thereof, fast closed to
I sung also
to me, to me,
gether, whereupon I heard a voice saying, “ Christ in God, and God in Christ, and Christ in thee :” which words I was compelled to sing forth before the company in a strange manner, und with such a voice as was not naturally mine vwn. divers phrases of scripture, which were given to me. After which I was raised from the ground, and set upon my feet by the power within me, which bade me be humble, and brought me down again upon my knees, and with a whispering voice said
“Stoop low, low;" and having stooped near the ground with my face, it said
Take up thy cross and follow me,” &c.” This power afterwards “tempted Gilpin to despair, and to cut his throat, and promised him eternal life if he would do it.” At which he started, and began to suspect that it must be an evil spirit which tempted him to self-murder. Then the next fit he had, the spirit told him that it was indeed an evil spirit which had acted in him all that time, under the notion of the Holy Spirit of God, but now that the Holy Spirit had come upon him, and chased away that evil spirit ; wherefore now that he might be sure he was in the right. And then again, upon other such like occasion, the voice would tell him that even that spirit which pretended to be the good spirit, was still the evil spirit,” &c. George Fox, in his book called “The Great Mystery,” p. 298, notices this case, and says he “ was convicted by the truth of his covetousness and his sin ;” and that " the devil was made to tremble in him," but that he “run into his imaginations."
Such scenes are well calculated to humble the pride of man, and to shake to its centre the Sadducean notions of many of the teachers of religion in the present age; but, “ alas ! Leviathan is not so tamed.” The gulph towards which the idolatry of intellect is leading many, especially amongst the dissenting bodies, is very
evident ; and we cannot shut our eyes to the inspired warning against the neologian spirit so rampant in the professing church : “ Shun profane and vain babblings : for they will increase unto
more ungodliness.”. We must be prepared now to hear the old inquiry, “ Yea hath God said ?” not whispered alone in the secret conclaves of infidelity, but gravely agitated through the "pulpit" and the religious press. May the good Shepherd keep the dependent little ones of his flock from the voice of the stranger, which is now more boldly than ever calling in question truths which God has condescended to make the subject of revelation to his poor but proud creature, man!
THOUGHTS ON THE WORD OF GOD AND ROMANISM.
A CHRISTIAN heart finds much cause for sorrow in contemplating the present state of the professing church. Error is becoming almost daily more multiform. Romanism, that concentration of errors, is spreading; and its triumphs are facilitated by the practical Romanism of protestants. The church has settled down into worldliness; known evil is tolerated in spite of God's call to separation from it; and these things are defended on the ground of “ tradition,” or expediency. All this exhibits to us a sad picture of the power and working of Satan.
Surely then, if ever it was needful for Christians to be found simply resting upon the word of God, it must be at such a time as the present. But it can hardly fail to be noticed, even by the casual observer, that the authority of scripture is so far weakened in the minds of many, that whilst in a vague manner they acknowledge the whole as the revelation of God, they yet endeavour to avoid the force of particular portions. In the things of men, we should doubt the allegiance of subjects, who professed to receive the laws of their monarch, and yet continually and openly made void each enactment which happened to interfere with their habits and feelings; and were it not that we feel more concern about the things of men than about the glory of God, we should shun with equal firmness, and reprobate with equal decision, everything like tampering with the authority of the word of God—that written record of the Holy Ghost, whereby the children of God are to try all things, and by which they are to judge how far things are in accordance with the mind of that Saviour, whose blood has been shed for us.
It is time that the fact should be stated, whether men will hear, or whether they will forbear, however careless the professing body, calling itself Christian, may be about the truth of-God; and this lamentable fact is, that statements have been made lessening the authority of the Bible, and that on the part of some from w
ought not to have expected such things, attempts have been made to define the manner and degree of Scripture inspiration; and these vain imaginings have been methodised in such a way, as to make it appear as if God had, in the inspiration of Scripture, wrought according to some model, which man in his wisdom had contrived for Him.
In asserting the plenary inspiration of the Scripture, I mean that the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are as absolutely the word of God, as were the ten commandments written“ by the finger of God.” It is true that the Holy Ghost has used many, from Moses to John in Patmos, to write down his words ; but He was the author-they only the instruments. It has pleased Him to employ many to write down his testimony concerning Jesus ; and even so has He been pleased to allow traces of their various hands to appear. The same blessed and eternal Spirit writes through Isaiah, and through Paul : very different is the manner in which truth is communicated through them; yet this in no way invalidates the absolute and plenary inspiration of their diverse writings.
There is a portion of Scripture which expressly states the plenary inspiration of the whole, in terms which subtlety can only try to evade by taking liberties with the word of God, which would be inadmissible with regard to the word of man: “ All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness." This is enough for the simple-minded Christian : the one word beón VEVOTOS, “ given by inspiration of God,” meets every question about the manner, kind, or degree, in which it affects different portions of Scripture. God tells me only of one kind of inspiration. How vain, then, how much worse than idle, however seeming wise to this world's wisdom, are all
speculations about“ superintendence,” “ elevation," “ direction," suggestion,” &c.! I say, worse than idle, because their direct tendency is to take Scripture away from the place in which God has set it. O that all who name the name of Christ would carefully hold fast the record which God has given concerning Him, remembering that every word of God is pure—that whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learning-that all scripture is given by inspiration of God,* and that he who at all weakens the force of anything which God has thus given, does virtually undermine the authority of the whole. I do not think that these unholy distinctions would ever have been made, had not men first practically slid away from simple obedience and subjection of heart and mind to the written word of God.
The word of God' runs counter to every system of man's devising; and no one who has anything of the works or thoughts of the flesh which he wishes to defend, can look it fairly and honestly in the face; he will avoid, at least mentally, the transcript of God's mind, under some subterfuge or other, just as Adam hid himself from the presence of God among the trees of the garden.
The position may, I believe, be unhesitatingly asserted, that if there be any tolerance of known evil
, there is no stopping point. If any, the slightest compromise of the truth of God be admitted, there is no ground on which the soul can consistently
* Much misspent labour and false criticism have been used to take away the force of this text. A learned man, for instance, found that he could not understand the book of Canticles, and therefore concluded that it was not an inspired writing; but having thus constituted himself judge of what the Holy Ghost ought to have written, he had to get over this text, wbich, according to its common rendering, must include all Scripture, Jewish
, or Christian, as given by inspiration of God: he therefore translates the verse after this manner:-“ Every writing, divinely inspired, is also profitable, &c,”
This would not be a particularly luminous statement; and the learned Doctor can give no authority, scriptural or classical, for his construction of the sentence; indeed, he says, he does not believe that any phrase exactly similar can be found; but the Holy Ghost has vindicated his own use of words by a similar construction in another passage of the New Testament: let the two be looked at together.
2 Tim. 3: 16. πάσα γραφή θεόπνευστος, και ωφέλιμος, κ. τ. λ. Ηeb. 4: 13. πάντα δε γυμνά και τετραχηλισμένα τοίς οφθαλμοίς, κ. τ. λ.
If the proposed rendering of the passage in Timothy were correct, the latter should be translated, "Now all naked things are also open to the eyes,” &c. This rendering would refute itself; for, instead of the passage shewing the all-searching character of the eye God, it would limit Him down to the beholding of naked things ; iie. those which are equally exposed to the gaze of man.
rest, short of admitting the whole of that embodied perversion of truth, which is to be found in Romanism. If human authority be of any worth in the things of God, who is to draw the limit? I believe that there is, on this ground, an increasing necessity for being clear and firm as to the inspiration, authority, and sufficiency of the word of God; for unless we fully recognise these things, we are not standing on ground on which we can meet the subtlety of the enemy, as exhibited in his many devices of evil.
That Romanism is spreading is seen by many ; indeed, the fact is manifest; and many of those who are aware of it see not how the evil is to be met, or else vainly try by political agitation, public meetings, &c., to check the spread of that which they so much dread. All this is but natural, when looked at as the conduct of the men of this world, who know nothing of any weapons but those which are of man; and who, even if they do use the word of God, take it not as “the Sword of the Spirit,” but as made in their hands a carnal weapon; and as such it is used by them for obtaining their own ends, and not for the glory of God. But that which ought to cause real grief of heart to every Christian, is that children of God should at all combat Romanism in the spirit and manner of the men of this world ; and at the same time, blunt, as it were, the edge of their proper weapon.
All the truth that we know in the things of God, is only according as He hath been pleased to reveal it; if He had revealed nothing, we should have known nothing ; and it is just as we, in obedience of heart, practically recognise the authority of the word, that we have power in upholding the truth of God against those who choose to oppose. It is only as we take the word of God in its fulness, that we have, really, power of testimony against the leaven of Rome. It is only as resting upon God simply and wholly, that we shall have strength against the power of man ; recognising the authority of God, we shall perceive how worthless is every thing of human authority or wisdom; and however feeble this testimony may be in the eyes of men, it will be that which God will honour; “ Them that honour me I will honour.” Whatever will help the children of God in their testimony for Him, is worthy of our attention, and it is well for us to know why this is now so feeble, and how power is to be obtained.
The real question between the Church of Rome and the children of God, rests upon this ; “How is a sinner to become just in the sight of God ?” this is the true turning-point; and if we look aside to details of error, and let our minds dwell upon them, we shall lose sight of the one object, which, in this matter, is of paramount importance. And this has been one of the means which Satan has used, so that, in the minds of very many, Romanism is identified with practical details of evil, instead of being seen as that which has set itself between God and man, refusing to allow the sinner to find peace, simply through believing in Him whose blood cleanseth from all sin.
The preaching of “the gospel of the grace of God” is that which is effectual against Rome: if this be not fully preached, the vantage ground is quitted, and we become powerless. But do those called Protestants really stand firm in their testimony for the Lord Jesus, and IIis blood, in this ? or are they virtually belying the record of God concerning his Son ? In short
, is the gospel which Paul preached, that which is preached by Protestants
at large? To this but one answer can be truly given; “ NO.” On every side Protestants have, more or less, let slip the fundamental truth ; and it is quite the exception to the common practice, for us to hear the full acceptance of the sinner through the blood of Jesus, as soon as he believeth, preached as it was by Paul; yet, “Let him be accursed,” is the twice repeated sentence of the Holy Ghost on him who preaches any other gospel ; and let no man dare to mitigate the sentence of God.
This is one of the consequences of that want of obedience of heart to the word of God, of which I have before spoken; every where we hear Christ preached about, and many true things said, and much learning and human wisdom displayed ; but alas ! how few care to bear the message of God. It is true that God does not bind himself as to granting blessing, and thus often the Holy Ghost uses a very partial statement of truth as the means of quickening the soul of a sinner to the knowledge of the blood of Jesus; this gives us to see the abounding of His grace, and is any thing but a warrant for deficiency in the statement of truth. God used the sin of man as the occasion for displaying his love in sending his Son; but this did not in any way justify the departure from God.
There is much in the common tone of modern preaching (even amongst those incorrectly called evangelical) which, as to this most important point of truth, very nearly symbolises with Rome; the work of Christ may be preached-the Father's satisfaction in the work of the Son—Christ the only one through whom life can come—human depravity, and God's hatred against sin ;-all these may be preached whether in connexion with Rome, or amongst Protestants; and yet the soul of the sinner may be left at an infinite distance from God. Something more must be known to give peace to the soul : it is not enough to know that the blood of Jesus has en shed, unless we know how the guilty are to obtain blessing through that work : Rome makes the distance great by interposing submission to - the Church,” and the things which “ the Church” enjoins. She will tell you that all comes through the merits of Christ, but the means whereby those merits become available for us are complicated and uncertain ; indeed, she distinctly tells those who listen to her, that no one can know, in this life, whether he be a saved person or not. To what can teaching such as this lead, save to the distressful cry, *" () wretched man that I am, who shall deliver me?" and that without the blessed answer which follows.
Much of the teaching of Protestants substantially accords with this : there is the same acknowledgment of all blessing coming through the merits of Christ; but those merits are placed far away above the sinner, and there is the same uncertainty as to the knowledge of acceptance. Rome gives external observances. Such Protestants as these give inward feelings as the things to be attended to, instead of pointing to the living person of Jesus at the right hand of God, and bearing the full and explicit testimony, " By Him all that believe are justified from all things.” “ We have, therefore, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way.'
Many specific details might be taken up, which shew the want of obedience of heart to the word of God, on the part of the professing Church; but this stands one of the foremost, and is worthy of the most attentive consideration of Christians. I may, perhaps, afterwards refer to a few other things in which the eye can at once detect the same evil principle.
The question between the Word of God and Rome, is briefly “ Are sinners justified by imputed righteousness, or by infused righteousness ?” Is it by that which has been done for them that they are aecepted, or is it by that which is wrought in them? Rome may
tell us, that works wrought by the Spirit of God in us are the means in which we stand possessed of an interest in the merits of Christ : and thus shall we be thrown upon ourselves for peace. Protestants may re-echo the same doctrine, differently phrased, telling us that if we are born of the Spirit, such and such fruits will be wrought in us; and thus, according to the manifestation of these evidences, so fur may we have peace, and may deem ourselves really to have faith in Christ. These sophisms may beset us on every side, so that if we be not relying on the word of the living God, we shall have nothing which can give us joy, unless, indeed, it were the delusive joy of self-complacency, But although the truth of God be denied or explained away by the ignorance or deceit of man, it will ever remain the same ground of confidence to him who relies upon the testimony of God: and it ought ever to be an abundant cause for thankfulness that the word is so explicit. There we read, “ To him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness ; even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works; saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin (Rom. iv. 5—8). This is a plain testimony; we read not of being justified through the righteousness of Christ being infused into us, and so making us righteous; but of “God justifying the ungodly, and faith being counted for righteousness.' There is not any process put between the sinner and his acceptance with God, except believing the record which God has given concerning his Son.
To some it may seem as though there were no need of pressing this point : since those before whom these pages may come are probably Christians who are really resting upon the blood of Christ for peace with God: but for that very reason, I would be very explicit as to this truth; for I know of nothing which believers need so much, in reference to their settled peace, as carefully separating in their minds