Imágenes de páginas

The internal gifts were such as these :
First, a faculty of discerning spirits.
Secondly, a perfect knowledge of the scriptures.
Thirdly, extraordinary prudence and conduct.

Fourthly, undaunted boldness, constancy, and courage.

Each of which we shall consider in their order, and shew how necessary such gifts and powers were to the first planters of the gospel, and how mightily it prevailed by reason of them. And,

First, the apostles were endowed with the gift of tongues, or a habit of speaking perfectly all languages, as there was occasion, without any previous study or instruction.

Thus, Acts ii. 4, it is said, they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance; and ver. 6, &c. the multitude of Jews and proselytes, that then were come from all parts to Jerusalem to worship, Parthians, Medes, and Elamites, and several other nations, heard them speak as by turns they discoursed to them, every man in his own tongue in which he was born, the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and wondered (as well they might) to hear a company of ignorant Galilæans speak to them in their own particular dialect with as much readiness and propriety as they themselves could do.

Some were so ridiculously malicious as to say they were full of new wine, and that drunkenness, the usual cause of men's not being able for a time to speak well and articulately their own mother tongue, made them so full of other strange languages, which perhaps they never so much as heard of before. But none that were not drunk with rage and prejudice would ever have made such an objection as this: and St. Peter's discourse at that very time, which was so efficacious as to convert three thousand souls e, was a demonstration that what he said was the words of truth and soberness, and that the inspiration of the Spirit of God, and not excess of winef, was the cause of that prodigy which they then saw and heard.

And a prodigy it was, so great, that no power less than that of God could effect it; a thing so evidently miraculous, that there is no room for any rational doubt or exception against it. That a few illiterate fishermen, whose time was wholly spent near the banks of a small inconsiderable lake in Galilee, and in all probability had never seen any country but their own; and their thoughts taken up with little else than catching and selling of fish, and mending their nets; and whose mean condition, and as mean natural parts, rendered it impossible for them to acquire those languages by the usual methods of study and instruction: that such men as these should all on the sudden be able to discourse fluently in any language, as if they had been natives of every country in the world, and should continue to do so as long as they lived, (as no doubt but they did,) nay, and have power to enable others to do the like, as we shall see they had by and by ; this is so quite out of the course and power of nature, that it is as reasonable to imagine, that second causes may so concur as to make a brute become rational, as that they could effect this miracle. And if any one should suspect a diabolical delusion in this matter, too many were witnesses of it to be so imposed e Acts ü. 41.

f Acts ü. 13.

upon, and the thing was too lasting, and the effects of it such as demonstrated it to be a great reality.

Now as for the necessity at that time of this miraculous gift, it is plain, that since the religion of Jesus was not to be confined to those narrow bounds that the old law was, but was to be preached to all nations, and the sound of it to reach to the world's end, it was necessary that the first propagators of it should be furnished with the free use and command of the several languages of those places they were to instruct in it; and the apostles that were set apart for this great work being all Jews, and all (except St. Paul, who was made of the number in an extraordinary manner afterwards) unlearned, and the usual way of acquiring languages so very tedious that it would be to the great hinderance of the progress of the gospel ; it was needful that the Spirit of God should make up this defect, by immediately infusing into them the habit of speaking any language whatsoever, wherever they should come, that so they might proclaim the glad tidings of the gospel without any such lets and delays as otherwise would have been unavoidable.

Secondly, they had power given them of miraculously healing diseases by a word or a touch, without making use of any outward applications; and of casting out devils; and even of raising the dead: according to that of our Lord to them after his resurrection, Mark xvi. 17, These signs shall follow them that believe ; In my name shall they cast out devils ; and shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover : and John xiv. 12. He that believeth in me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the


Father: and Acts ii. 43. it is said, many wonders and signs were done by the apostles; several of which are recorded in that book : and it was but needful that they should have such a power as this.

For the world was then, and had been for a long time, fixed in quite different ways of worship to what the Christian religion taught; the Jews in their way, and the heathens in theirs; and to which they were so wedded, that nothing could be more difficult than to bring them off. And therefore it was not enough that the apostles should barely preach up the excellency of their Master's religion above all others, and quote prophecies of old to prove him to be the Saviour of the world, and promise infinite rewards in heaven to such as should comply with the gospel, and threaten high to the obstinate refusers of it; for this any bold sectary might do, and no more than this would have prevailed but little.

The Gentiles would hardly have been brought to part with the religion of their fathers, grown natural to them by long use and custom, set off with great pomp and splendour, applauded by the most eloquent men in the world, and, as they thought, not destitute of approbations supernatural and divine; and that for a novelty never heard of before, recommended only by a few poor, ignorant mechanics, and those too of a nation which they hated and despised ; and which taught such strange, impracticable doctrines as self-denial, taking up the cross, hating the world, and the like; and all this only in prospect of a future spiritual reward ; and that not to be enjoyed neither till after death. Barely to persuade a heathen by discourse to change his religion for such a one as this, at first sight, would appear to him to be, would in all probability have caused, derision and mockery, rather than conversion.

And less likely would it have been in this manner to prevail upon the Jews, who, as they were naturally the most obstinate, unteachable people in the world, so they were of all others the most tenacious of their own religion, and had great reason to be so; being assured by many unquestionable miracles that it was from God, and having smarted so often, and so severely formerly, for their being unfaithful to it.

And accordingly we find them demanding a sign even of our Lord himself, though they could not but be sensible that he spake so as never man spake. And though he refused at that time to satisfy the Pharisees' impious curiosity, yet at other times he wrought a great many stupendous miracles, and appeals to them as the proof of his being the Christ8; and says plainly, John xv. 24, If I had not done among them the works that none other man did, they had not had sin.

Wherefore it was absolutely necessary that this religion which the world was so obstinately bent against, to the Jews a stumblingblock, and to the Gentiles foolishness, which had so little of the world in it to recommend it, and was to be planted by such outwardly poor and contemptible instruments, should be proved to be divine by some extraordinary evidence from Heaven: that so, however mean and unpromising its outside might be, men might be convinced that it was indeed the power and the wisdom of Godh. & John x. 38. xiv. 11.

h i Cor. i. 24.

« AnteriorContinuar »