Page images

from off me at the voice of Christ. I was verily made, in a moment, to stand upon my feet, leap and walk, sing and rejoice. Oh that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, and for his wondrous works to the children of men !'”—Glasgow Chronicle.

That the writer of this letter was very ill; that her medical attendants, and all her acquaintances, thought her past the possibility of recovery; and that she has recovered suddenly; are indisputable facts, confirmed by many persons. But it is now said that she was only hypochondriac, and had nothing really the matter with her. If this he so, it is not very

creditable to the skill or honesty of these persons that they did not make the discovery sooner. As to imposture, there is not the remotest pretext for charging her, or James Macdonald, with any thing of the sort. They have received a blessing, and they thank their God for it, and ascribe the glory to Him : they attempt to found no new doctrines, nor do they set up any new worship. To call her the female head of the sect, as the Record Newspaper bas done, is as wicked, as well as stupid, a charge as ever was made ; inasmuch as there is no sect, and consequently it has no head. So far from the charge of making a sect being true, the Macdonalds regularly attend their accustomed place of worship, although they are often alluded to in such a manner as to be exceedingly painful to them, and to draw the attention of the whole congregation to them ; setting thereby a signal example of obedience to the authority of the church. "No breath of slander has dared to breathe against them in any matter, save this concerning their God : and the reports of all whom we have met agree in this, whatever their opinions may be upon the miraculous manifestation, that they are persons of remarkable simplicity and devotional piety.

The fact of one of the party speaking in an unknown tongue, and another interpreting, must rest primarily upon the character of the persons who assert that they do so. It is certainly possible that one man may utter some jargon, and be in league with another who shall pretend to give an interpretation of it ; but whether this be so, or not, ought to rest upon the characters of the persons, and the end which they purpose to attain. Now in the present case the characters are excellent, and no end whatever is attempted to be attained : so that, if their conduct be the result of a plot, it is a plot with no meaning, and for no assignable end.

Assuming, however, that the manifestations which have been made are supernatural, it by no means necessarily follows that they are made by the power of the Holy Spirit, and not at the instigation of an evil spirit. The power of Satan is represented as uncontroulable but by the Holy Ghost himself; and therefore any man may be possessed by him at any time. It is on account of this fact, so repeatedly declared in the record of Truth, that directions are given to the church by which she may try the spirits. Two special tests are given, which have been above referred to-namely, the assertion of the Lordship of Jesus over this whole earth; and, that Christ is come in Flesh: to this may be added a third, that Christ is coming again in flesh. The avowal of these doctrines is declared to be the criterion of the persons exhibiting miraculous powers being under the influence of the Spirit of Christ, and not of the spirit of antichrist. These doctrines are all proclaimed by the persons who have exhibited, and by those who have witnessed, and by those who believe in, the miraculous powers in the west of Scotland ; and it is notorious that in Scotland, more than in any other part of Christendom, does that spirit of antichrist prevail which' denies that Christ has come in the flesh; asserting that the manhood he assumed was not that of the virgin, but a better kind of manhood and also the other spirit of antichrist, which denies that he is coming in flesh; asserting that he is only coming in spirit, which is, in fact, to say that the Man is not coming at all : and the third spirit of antichrist, which denies that Jesus is Lord of all; asserting that temporal power is derived, not from Him, but from the people ; and that the temporal ruler ought not to appoint teachers of Christ's religion throughout the land, but to admit the enemies and blasphemers of Christ to be officebearers over Christ's people.

We know not how, then, to escape from the conclusion that this work is of God : and it is not the least part of its Divine character, that it should have been manifested in the face of Antichrist; and by persons of no intellectual culture, in the very place where pride of intellect and systematic Calvinism has eaten out almost every Christian grace, and substituted a heartless creed or catechism for the essentials of godliness. If such be the case, then will those who are offended at these gifts blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, attributing them to the work of an unclean spirit. This is a very awful consideration; and we therefore earnestly conjure those of our readers who are at a distance from the scene, and who are not satisfied with such evidence as they have hitherto procured, to abstain from coming to any conclusion on the matter; and in the mean time to make themselves thorough masters of the nature and mode in which the Holy Ghost manifested himself in the Apostolic ages; and to keep themselves in a humble frame of mind, ever saying, “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.”

It has been the general opinion in modern times, as may be seen by referring to the commentators, that the unknown language which any one was empowered to speak was, nevertheless, known to the speaker, and also to some other persons upon earth; in short, that the gift of tongues was neither more nor less than a suddenly acquired knowledge of languages. But this appears, from the passage in the Corinthians above-mentioned, to have been evidently not the case. It is, however, an important feature in the present report from Port-Glasgow: for if the assumption of this miraculous gift were the offspring of a diseased imagination, or of imposture, the deception would have taken a form to suit the general opinion concerning the nature of the gift of tongues. An impostor would have made out an interpretation, and an enthusiast also : the first to meet the opinion of others; the second, because his enthusiasm must have had its nourishment from the common stock of notions on the subject. Miracles are not spoken of as attestations of the reality of inspiration, but as indications of the unity of the body, and for the mutual edification and love of the body.

Another unusual circumstance attendant on the prayermeetings where these extraordinary exhibitions have taken place, consists in the loudness of the voices, at certain times, of those who pray; the parties themselves seeming scarcely aware of the loudness or length of their prayers. It is stated in the Record newspaper, that their prayer-meetings“ are kept up to very late hours.... and sometimes during the whole night :” and again, that "the noises they made, in howling and screaming out together, were so great as to disturb the whole neighbourhood, to attract crowds of people in the street," &c. The substance of this account has been confirmed to us from other sources. No one, of course, will contend that loudness or silence are essentials of prayer, and in themselves characteristic of any thing. The only point in the present case is this, Is silence or loudness most accordant with the prayers of those who in the Sacred Scriptures were unequivocally moved by the Holy Ghost? And to this inquiry we come, because several persons, not unfriendly, who were present, have informed us that they felt annoyed by the loudness ; and because our own prepossessions and practice lead us rather to prefer the opposite. Concerning the prayers of our blessed Lord, we read, that "in the days of his desh he offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears ” (Heb. v. 7). In Matt. xxvii. 26 we read, that on the cross he “cried with a loud voice;" and again, at ver. 50," he cried again with a loud voice.” In Hebrews the expression is very strong, kpavyng loxupaç : and in the two latter, Melayn pwrn. Of Stephen's last prayer it is recorded, in Acts vu. 60,“ he kneeled down, and cried with a loud voice,” &c. These instances may suffice to shew at least thus much, that loudness in prayer is not contrary to Scripture example; but, as far as there is any testimony on the subject, that testimony is in favour of it.

It does not appear that the persons in whom the Holy Ghost was manifested in the Apostles' days were able at all times to exert the power which they did at other times ; nor that that power was used for their own sakes, either towards themselves, or in favour of those who were dear to them in the flesh. When the Lord was tempted, by forty days of fasting in a desert place, to work a miracle to satisfy the cravings of hunger, he refused to do so; but there is no instance of his refusing to work a miracle for the relief of any stranger that applied to him. In Acts ix. 38, when Dorcas died, the brethren who were with her did not themselves undertake, either by prayer or otherwise, the work of raising her, but sent for Peter: and it is very possible that the supremacy of the office of apostle, above all the other offices in the church, consisted mainly in this, that they combined many of, and perhaps all, the gifts which are separate, and kept distinct, in others. St. James does not direct his brethren" to whom he writes to exert themselves for the recovery of their sick friends, but to “call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord ; and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, &c.” This limitation seems necessary for the very end for which the Holy Ghost dwells in sinful men ; the principal object of which is, to manifest a present God in his church ; and also to subdivide his operations or gifts amongst the various members of the body of Christ, so as that no one should be independent of the other, or able to say that he had no need of a brother. It is scarcely necessary to observe what a bond of union this would constitute amongst the brethren ; and how much, therefore, we ought to pray, for this reason alone, that the gifts of the Holy Spirit should be made manifest now, as they were at first ; and if they are already manifested in the west of Scotland, to rejoice greatly in the same. This would produce at once a complete and manifest separation between those who are possessed of the Spirit of Christ and those who are not. It will also produce a most bitter persecution, not from infidel and tolerating governments, but from false brethren, aided indeed, and backed by, a scoffing world. This kind of persecution has already begun; and the union of the openly infidel journals with those which call themselves religious, for this unhallowed and brutal purpose, is a feature in the case not to be overlooked : and, be it observed, they all alike condemned without hearing or examining into the subject.-At the same time it is to be remembered, that as the faith by which miracles may be performed in the name of Jesus may exist without being born of God, which alone constitutes eternal life, our prayer should rather be that God would bestow his gifts upon his church at large, than any particular gift upon ourselves : the prayer should be for the catholic church, as a whole ; being willing at the same time to receive any that the Lord would see fit to bestow upon us individually, whether for the exhibition of His own power, or for the benefit of his body, our brethren, the church. Let all rest assured, that the gift of the Holy Ghost to the church is one thing: that if we believe not in the power by which men may do greater things than Christ, because he goeth to the Father (John xiv. 12), we are not believing in that other Comforter, or Advocate, who was to reside in us always. Is it a strange thing that the Christian church should be the CHRISTIAN CHURCH ? Are there not many pious and excellent men who have striven to restore the church to the model of the Apostolic times? Now, then, is the time to prove their sincerity. Is it a strange thing that the temple of the Holy Ghost should be the TemPLE OF The Holy Ġuost? That He who has ascended up on high, and received gifts for men, should give these gifts even to the rebellious also, that God, Jah, should dwell in them ? Let the Scriptures be searched for the account of the body of Christ in its corporeal unity, and diversity of members, and relating to the bestowal of the Holy Ghost; and not one passage can be found where we are entitled to adopt the human device of separation between ordinary and extraordinary; and of taking so much, and leaving so much, according to each man's measure of prudence. Not to acknowledge the principle at least, is to reject a grand doctrine of Christianity; and any one who does not see that these gifts belong to the church in all ages, needs to be taught the first principles of the oracles of God, and must necessarily sin in devising human substitutes for Divine gifts. Give to the Lord glory and strength, and let not the mark of a Christian church, the ESSENce of a Christian church, be denied amongst Christians.

We would not, for all this universe can bestow, say a single syllable to the disparagement of one of Christ's lambs; but we cannot conclude these remarks without again referring to an observation, which we have transcribed above, namely, “that the possession of power, divinely communicated, by no means implied divine wisdom in the use of it.” Much want of discretion, and even folly, may be mingled with the real manifestation of supernatural power; and it is rather more accordant with the Divine procedure in similar cases that it should be so. If it were not, there would be no room for the malevolence of “hypocritical mockers” to display itself; the foolish things could not be selected to put to shame the wise; and the power of God would not be so manifestly exhibited to the eye of "faith, as it is now, in the weak things of this world. We do not mean by this to suppose, or to insinuate, that any one of the disparaging stories that have appeared in the (religious !) newspapers and magazines

« EelmineJätka »