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Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
On my return home, accompanied by Mrs. Reynolds and her little boy; we had the pleasure to find our mutual friend, Mrs. Milbanke, waiting to see me, who seemed gratified that we were at liberty to sit down with her for half an hour; and after a few usual expressions of friendly compliment, she presented me with the Report of a Bible Society, which she said had excited some interest.
I took it, and turning over the leaves though without the intention of reading it at that moment, my eye was caught by the detail of the number of languages into which the Bible had been translated, and of course of the countries in which it either had been, or was intended to be circulated.
• Here is a subject,' I said, ' which strikes me as peculiarly interesting, that the Word of God, which contains the message of life and peace to all mankipd, should, through the medium of the gift of languages, be thus proclaimed to the utmost corners of the earth.
"Now then,' Mrs. Reynolds said, with quickness, we see some of the noble uses of the gift of tongues, and this is not the first time that this thought has been entertained by me, for I have been exceedingly impressed by the reflections which have arisen in my mind from the comparisons of those two most wonderful acts of God as revealed in the Old and New Testament-in 1 Cor. xii. 10, where, in the enumeration of the gifts of the one and the self-same Spirit, it is said, “ And to another divers kinds of tongues ; ” but in Genesis xi. the awful account is that as a curse the Lord did confound the language of all the earth.'
• Ab!' I said, ' that one was a tremendous act of judgment upon men whose wicked devices made them unfit for association, and whose “ fear came upon them,” as the scripture expresses, when on account of the confusion thus produced, they were “ scattered abroad upon the face of the earth.”
• Then,' Mrs. Reynolds eagerly interrupted, the other was a transcendant testimony to the reconciled love of the Lord, who, in grace, granted this wonderful antidote to the evil he had in anger inflicted ; and if the one was a curse, this is truly called a gift.'
• Yes, I again remarked, “it is indeed an interesting fact that the division of tongues which was, in the first instance, a curse, in an act of Almighty wrath, should now be ameliorated by the knowledge of languages as an acquisition, and be deemed in the day of reconciliation a gift; for, though in this communication on the day of Penteoost it was a miraculous dispensation, as well as the qualification for their use ; yet we may be sure the ability to attain them by study, and the providential openings for their use, are equally the gifts of God, and the power to use them for the same gracious purposes can come from none but Him.'
. How deeply interesting is the consideration,' Mrs. Reynolds said ; and perhaps we could look for no greater evidence of the peace made on earth, and the good-will to men, actually promised by the atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God, than this wonderful gift testified. It seems to say, Now there is a way up to the heavenly abode, the * Exceeding High Tower ;” into which all who desire to enter there may unitedly build, striving together,-an enterprise worthy the harmony of intelligible tongues, in which each to other may communicate their design by accents reaching to heaven, expressing their hope, their purpose, while labouring together in love! It is a powerful and convincing testimony to the acceptable way of approach to our reconciled God, that he should from on endue the favoured messengers of peace, through Jesus, to declare the glad tidings to every nation under heaven, even the wonderful work of redeeming love! and the way of access opened through the cross!'
*0,' said Mrs. Milbanke, ‘ how I should like to have this subject discussed a little at large, for I confess myself to be under some perplexity on account of the various interpretations which are presented in the present day; and being not one of those who either feel qualified to form a judgment, or at liberty to acquiesce in all the opinions of others, I should be thankful to be aided to a just understanding. Shall I obtrude,' she added, in a persuasive tone, . if I ask leave to prolong my call for this purpose ?'
Mrs. Milbanke had scarcely concluded her request, when my friend Henry made his appearance. I felt him particularly welcome at that moment, and as I
could, with perfect convenience, accord with Mrs. Milbanke's desire, and she was earnest, we immediately opened the subject to him.
. That the gift of tongues,' he said, “is a peculiar mark of divine favour, we have no difficulty in deter: mining, since we can trace the purport of them to the most gracious designs.' And drawing his little Bible out of his pocket, be turned to the twentyfourth chapter of Luke. • See here,' he continued, putting his forefinger on the forty-fifth verse, the conclusion of those important communications, by which the Lord opened the understanding of the disciples to understand the scriptures, what he said it behoved him,-“ Thus it behoved Christ to sufferto rise from the dead the third day—and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” He then intimates who are the proper persons by whom this should be preached, saying, “And ye are witnesses of these things.” They were witnesses, but as witnesses only they could not fulfil that which Christ said it behoved him to have done—they were unlearned men, and not qualified, therefore, to preach what, notwithstanding, they knew and beheld; and however great and glad the tidings, they must have been for ever confined in their communication without the divine preparation in the gift of tongues. They started no objections however, but implicitly believed the promise, and obeyed the injunction, “ And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high.”'
• I wish much,' Mrs. Milbanke said, í you would say what you think was the promise of the Father.'
• We are not,' he answered, “ left to any uncertainty what to think ; for the application is at once made by the gifted preachers on that blessed occasion when it was sent, and which was the fulfilling of the word and promise spoken by the prophet Joel ; when all marvelled at the effect; the tle said, — • This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.”'
* But I have heard it advanced,' said Mrs. Milbanke, that that prophecy has yet to be fulfilled, or rather is now fulfilling.'
I cannot accompany an opinion on such a point, formed in opposition to the word of the inspired Interpreter-who, desirous to fix the minds of the astonished and misjudging people, peremptorily asserts, This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel.” It is true that it may be still in operation, or may have still a manifest application in the few future days that remain to make up those last days; but it cannot be another, or a new one, because it is declared to be this that endued the apostles at that time.' Then,' Mrs. Milbanke remarked, “if it may
have a future application they do not err who look for it, or who suppose they possess the present influence; and it comes to the same thing.'
'I beg your pardon; the important distinction to be made is this, that it must at least so accord with the character and manner of that outpouring, as to identify itself as one with it, as still this that was spoken by the prophet Joel.'
“And what will identify it?'
Explain more fully, if you please; I am anxious on the subject; it is not, I assure you, an impertinent inquiry.'