Page images
PDF
EPUB

· Then I will say the qualification must be a tongue belonging to some people or nation, to be understood hy them when addressed in it; and the application must be still, to all nations, that which it behoved Christ to have done, namely, the preaching repentance and remission of sins in his name. It must still be this, that whatever tribe or nation or tongue are brought under the bearing of it, they shall be able to recognize the messenger as qualified or endued for them, that they may hear in their own tongue the wonderful works of God; as it was on the outpouring of the Spirit, when every man heard them speak in his own language ; and they said one to another, “ Are not all these which speak Gallileans? and how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we

were born ?",

• Is it not,' I said, “ correspondent with this when our Lord speaks by the prophet Isaiah 1. 4, foreshowing his intention of what it behoved him to have done, and what he was pleased to do,—“ The Lord God hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.” And it deserves our observation, that when he spoke to Paul, as related Acts xxvi. 14, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying, in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?” and you know he describes himself as Hebrew of the Hebrews.'

* But it is said,' Mrs. Milbanke interrupted, shall speak with new tongues.” Acts xvi. 17.'

. It is so. But new in that passage means no more than other tongues new to them, and was indeed, on account of that very novelty, a sign to them of the grant of the Promise. A new tongue, in any other

a

they sense, would have been no blessing-no demonstration of reconciliation-no endowment to fit them for proclaiming the gospel of Jesus. They might still have been marvelled at, and under the reproach of intoxicated spirits, had they been unable to speak and preach to the people in their own tongue. I believe it is the only place where it is called new tongue ; and it must be remarked, it is connected in context with the fifteenth verse, where Jesus saith unto tbem, “ Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptised shall be saved, but he that believeth not shall be damned.” For this unlimited mission to all the world, they must needs be endued with new tongues, and both grace and equity required, that He who doeth all things right, should enable the bearers to know the message, upon which hang such irreversible consequences, that they might believe or not believe.'

• But you know there is a stronger word even than that, which is unknown tongues.'

* There is such a word ; but thank that same Lord, who was with the prophets and evangelists, he was also pleased to endow the translators of our English version of the bible with an upright and reverential respect, as far as in them lay, to keep distinctly to the original words, in the original language; and there is much cause to admire the faithfulness with which they have adhered to the letter and the spirit of the word; and when the peculiar difficulties occurred, of rendering the original, which had peculiar idioms, not easy to convey in ours, so as to render it intelligible in English, they conscientiously mark every word introduced in Italic characters, so that if

you please you may omit them when you read. You doubtless will have often observed this ; and as for myself, I am rather fond of reading in this way, thinking the original idiom, in many instances, conveys even to the English reader a more lively and pointed meaning.'

· Yes;' Mrs. Milbanke answered, 'I have certainly observed it.'

' It really might be said that the bible itself speaks in a new tongue, in every language into which it has been translated: but it is an own tongue of the people for whom it is translated, and speaks always the same tidings of gospel grace, preaching repentance and remission of sins in the name of Jesus.'

* But still that word unknown has too strong a meaning, to be left without full investigation.'

• We will enter upon it, if you please; and if you, my dear friend,' Henry said, turning to me, supply each one with an English bible, we shall each at the same time have the passages under our own eye.' I immediately complied with his request, and be desired that we would hold our attention to 1 Cor. xiv.

But,' he continued, ‘if we previously run through the 12th chapter, we shall observe that the apostle had been endeavouring to correct that pernicious disposition of self-estimation, in consequence of some particular gift or talent, and that disunion which was occasioned by the pride of supposing themselves superior to, or independent of, the other members of the body of Christ. Shewing how each one is “set in the church” as the many members of eye, hand and foot, &c. are in the body, and as they each have their distinct offices, in various members, so also have

I will

6

the members in the body of Christ. These gifts are different, but they unitedly serve as in one body. Among the gifts are named, verse 10, “ Kinds of tongues,” -verse 28, “ Diversities of tongues”-and then to show the necessity of unanimity for the perfect operation of the body, because one member could not possess the whole offices, he so pointedly interrogates in a way incontrovertible, All apostles ? All prophets? All teachers ? All workers of miracles ? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?'

Mrs. Reynolds said, “I have often reflected with great feeling on the wonderful grace of our Lord, who so frequently performs that omnipotent act of bringing good out of evil, and that the very rising evils in the Christian churches, calling for correction and more enlarged instruction, have been such merciful means of putting on record, not only the sins and errors, but their counteraction and reproof, That pride and folly of self-conceit in the Corinthians, brought forth from the pen of the inspired apostles, the scripture contained in 1 Cor. xiii. and which must stand for ever our profitable guide in discriminating the true principles of action.'

• Your remark is just; and so it is, that whilst the apostle teaches the necessity of the combination of the various gifts of each individual with the body of Christ, and even exhorts us to covet earnestly the best gift, he takes occasion, as in the 13th, to show the necessity of a deeper possession, even a power of love in the heart, without which all other gifts are vain and profitless. “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, and a tinkling cymbal.”'

[ocr errors]

· But, interrupted Mrs. Milbanke, you have not yet entered upon the consideration : of unknown tongues.'

• All in due course,' Henry answered, smiling : What we have been saying will not be useless to this purpose ; and now then we will look down this 14th chapter, and in every place where unknown is written, you will observe the faithful indication that it is a word interpolated by the translator, with the view of being an explanatory aid to the subject; nor I presume, could they ever have supposed any other use would be made of it, than that which they simply intended. Had it occurred to them that it could ever in connexion with the subject, have been made to imply tongues never known or never spoken by any people or nation, I cannot hesitate to believe they would have rejected the use of it, as not appropriate to the subject in question. However, we may with all propriety reject it; it is not the original inspired word, and we shall incur no danger, from its omission, of offending against the positive injunction in Rev. xxii. 19.'

• It is to be observed that the apostle's intention is to bring the assembling of the church together into a profitable and useful arrangement by the employment of the tongue or language each one speaks for the edifying of the hearers. The tongue should be used for prophesying or praying intelligibly, in order to edify, otherwise the speaker's exercise of prayer, or of speaking mysteries, can only be between himself and God. It is moreover evident, that the tongues alluded to, were what the persons themselves understood : it might be a new, an unknown, or a strange tongue to others, but to himself it was understood, or

« EelmineJätka »