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ACTS ii. 4. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and
began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
every miracle proposed to our belief, two points are chiefly requisite; first, that it appears to have been an act which none but Divine power could perform ; secondly, that it was wrought for some important purpose, worthy of divine interposition. In both these respects, the miracle recorded in the words of the text will bear the strictest investigation.
That a power, instantaneously communicated, of speaking divers languages, is utterly beyond the reach of human faculties, will hardly even by the most sceptical be called in question. That some who were witnesses of this in the case here related of the Apostles, should have had the hardihood
to “ mock” at so astonishing an occurrence, saying, “These men are full of new wine,” is a lamentable instance of ignorance, of inconsideration, or of perverseness. It was nothing less than ascribing to the grossest debasement of the understanding that which transcends the powers of the most perfect human intellect. If, indeed, there can be any gradation in miraculous gifts, this was a miracle of the highest order. It carries, on the very face of it, the evidence of such an immediate and overpowering influence upon the mental faculties, as can be conceived to proceed only from Him who first endowed man with the gift of speech. It was an act of direct supernatural agency, as manifest and as complete as it would have been to enable the new-born infant to articulate, or the tongue of the dumb to sing.
That no illusion could have been practised upon this occasion is also equally certain. The simple narrative of the Apostle removes every suspicion of this kind. “There were
dwelling,” says he, “ at Jerusalem, Jews, “ devout men, out of every
nation under “ heaven;" and “ when this was noised “ abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man
a Acts ii. 13.
“ heard them speak in his own language.
And they were all amazed and marvelled, “ saying one to another, Behold, are not all “ these which speak Galileans? And how “ hear we every man in our own tongue, “ wherein we were born ?" Here it is evident, that persons wholly unconnected and unacquainted with the Apostles came purposely to satisfy themselves of the truth of what they had heard reported; and since the gift so bestowed, though sudden and instantaneous in its production, was not transient or momentary in its effect, but continued to be a permanent gift throughout the course of their ministry, time and opportunity were not wanting to verify the fact, not only at that moment, but long after the first impressions of surprise and wonder had ceased. The immediate consequence, however, was amply sufficient to set incredulity at defiance. “The
same day were added” to the number of Christian converts “three thousand souls b.? What deception can we conceive it possible for the Apostles to have practised upon
such an assemblage of persons, strangers to each other, coming from various distant countries, and each, however illiterate or uneducated, conversant at least with his own vernacular tongue, and in that respect beyond the reach of delusion? Had the Apostles indeed attempted to persuade either themselves or others that they possessed such a gift, when in reality they possessed it not; where would have been the individual among the whole multitude who could not instantly have detected the fraud, and have exposed it to scorn and derision ?
b Acts ii. 41.
On the certainty, then, of the fact itself we may assume there could be no reasonable doubt. Of its importance, as in every respect worthy of Divine interposition, the evidence will be found no less satisfactory.
On the eve of his departure from this world, our Lord fully explained to his sorrowing disciples the expediency of his leaving them to the guidance of that Holy Spirit who was to supply his place here on earth : “ If I go not away,
the COMFORTER will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send him unto
you.” From that Comforter they were to obtain such further instruction and such continual help, as should enable them to discharge the functions of the high and sacred office to which they had been called. While their blessed Master remained on earth, and before he had, by his death, resurrection, and
c John xvi. 7.
ascension, fulfilled all that the prophets had spoken of him, they were far from distinctly apprehending the entire purpose of his coming, or the true nature of the spiritual kingdom he was about to establish. Their inability to discern these things until after all had been accomplished, is assigned as a reason why they should not repine at the loss of his presence: “I have yet many things to say unto you,
but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, “ he will guide you into all truth; for he “ shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever “ he shall hear, that shall he speak; and he “ will shew you things to come. He shall
glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and “shew it unto you.” Among other extraordinary powers to be conferred upon them, this heavenly Comforter was to “bring all
things to their remembrance whatsoever he “ had said unto theme;" thus not only supplying his place to the fullest extent of their exigencies, but giving them the most entire assurance, that whatever was imparted by the one would be confirmed and ratified by the other. For these important purposes our Lord stated his departure to be necessary, and the coming of the Holy Ghost indispensd John xvi. 12, 13, 14.
e John xiv. 26. Ff