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doctrine, and to support an infant, struggling cause against that opposition which was then fo‘powerfully exerted against it. Among these gifts we find that of divers 'tongues; a gift" absolutely necessary, to supply the defects of an incompetent education, and to qualify illiterate men for the immediate discharge of an office, which, according to the commission delivered to them, was to go and make disciples in all nations." .
But the Apostles were not only to preach and propagate the religion of a crucified Jesus, but were, moreover, to leave behind them a standing revelation for the future direction and government of the church. To enable them to collect the materials for this work, from the detached conversation of their blessed Master, and the incidental circumstances of his life, with a correctness essential to its perfection, extraordinary assistance was deemed necessary. One part, therefore, of the Holy Ghost's office, as advocate for the church, was to qualify the Apostles for this undertaking; by “ leading them into all truth; and bringing all things to their remembrance which Jesus had said unto them.” John xiv. 25, 26. By this fupernatural assistance, ignorance and error were effectually guarded against; and every truth expe
dient to be known was delivered to the world, with that authority and conviction, proper to accompany a revelation, designed to be the standard of Christian faith to all future ages.
To those, therefore, who in these days despise the ordinary means of attaining divine knowledge, from a dependence upon that extraordinary assistance from the Holy Spirit, which was vouchsafed to the Apoftles and first Christians, we have to observe; that the state of the Christian world does not at this time render such assistance necessary. The standard of Christian faith being fixed, we have no new revelation to expect. It remains only, that we now make ourselves acquainted with that which has been vouchfafed unto us; and this is to be done by the usual methods of study and application, accompanied with that ordinary assistance of the Holy Spirit, which we are taught to believe will accompany all sincere endeavours exerted in such a cause.
The church stands no longer upon that ground on which it originally stood, when the weak things of the world and the foolish things were chosen to confound the wise. Kings and Queens are now become her nursing fathers and nursing mothers; and the wisdom of the wise is now engaged in her cause. The signs and wonders, which accompanied the preaching of the Gospel in its early days, have therefore ceased; because the end for which they were granted having been answered, the continuance of them is no longer necessary. For a similar reason, all the extraordinary assistance of the Holy Spirit to qualify the first teachers of Christianity for their office, by the effect of immediate inspiration supplying natural incapacity, has long since ceased; becaufe men have it now in their power, in a great degree, to qualify themselves for the discharge of the ministerial office by a proper employment of those faculties which God has given them for the purpose.
As much important work was to be completed within a short period, the whole world being to be converted by the Apostles and their immediate depuries to the knowledge of the true God, such means were necessary as would tend to give a ready reception to their preaching, by producing a powerful and instantaneous effect upon their hearers. Miracles were expressly calculated for this purpose. And had the state of the church still continued to be what it was when the Holy Ghost first 'undertook the charge of it, the same extraordinary means would still have been neceffary for its support. But in propor
tion as the ordinary means of promoting Christian knowledge increased upon the world, extraordinary means were withdrawn; and the external evidence for the credibility of the Gospel, from the signs and wonders which attended its early promulgation, gradually gave way to that internal evidence, which the study of the sacred writings, when put into the hands of Christians, was calculated to furnish; an evidence which, though less quick in its operation than what
the understanding through the medium of the senses, bas yet this advantage in its favour, that it is more permanent in its effect.
Whilst, therefore, the sober Christian looks for that assistance of the Holy Spirit which is still necessary for his condition, to enable him to “ fight the good fight of faith,” and which he certainly will obtain, provided he do not ask amiss; he does not expect to receive assistance which the circumstances of his case do not require
Should extraordinary events take place in the Christian world, he rests assured, from the experience of former times, that the same Holy Spirit who “divideth to every man severally as he will,” and to “whose trust the spiritual concerns of Christians have been committed, will not be wanting to the occafion,
A distinction is, therefore, to be made between the ordinary and extraordinary assistance of the Holy Spirit; each being adapted by Divine wisdom to the particular condition of the party concerned. In the present day, the extraordinary affistance which attended the infant church is not expected, because it is not wanted. That it is not granted, can be no subject for controversy; whilst those who pretend to it, are unable to produce a proof of it. They neither work miracles, nor do they possess the gift of tongues; though from a want of knowledge of the languages in which the Scriptures were originally written, they are frequently leading their hearers into error; which certainly they would not be permitted to do, if, like the Apostles, they were, as they pretend to be, under the immediate direction of the Holy Spirit.
All pretence, therefore, to this extraordinary assistance of the Holy Spirit, which tends to supersede the use of those general methods of attaining Divine knowledge, which are suited to the present state of things in the world, and calculated to establish the faith and practice of the Christian professor on the firm ground of sound argument and rational conviction, is the offspring of enthusiasm; which has been productive of more disgrace to the Christian cause,