A digitization of Edward Irving’s second defense in Fraser’s Magazine on his promotion of unknown tongues.
Reverend Edward Irving and his central London congregation (1830s) were the center of world-wide religious attention on the topic and practice of speaking in tongues. The result was that he received heavy criticism from a variety of sources.
Irving sought to counter claims against him and his church by publishing three articles in a popular English publication called Fraser’s Magazine. All three works are digitally captured for the Gift of Tongues Project. The following is his second entry.
ON RECENT MANIFESTATIONS OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS.
BY THE REV. EDWARD IRVING.
Having narrated the circumstances under which this jewel of inestimable price was found amidst the neglected and forgotten stores of the Church, I must now describe as I can the beauty, and the worth, and the various glorious uses for which it is intended. The gift of speaking with other tongues, which hath been the occasion of so much sin to this generation of mockers, is the subject which, above all, hath rewarded my meditation with other fruit, whereof I shall in this paper endeavour to lay some part before my brethren. But first I would endeavour to describe the manner of it to those who have not had the opportunity of witnessing it — to many, alas! who have thought it beneath their notice, but will think otherwise when they have read this paper. After describing it according to the forms in which I have seen it exhibited hundreds of times, I will shew its perfect identity with that which is written of in the Scriptures, then set forth the results of my meditations upon it, and close with some reflections upon the gifts of the Spirit in general, and the obligations of the Church for the same.
From these words of the apostle Paul (1 Cor. xiv. 6), “Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?” it would seem that there be four forms or uses of speaking with tongues : the first for revealing things hidden in the Word, concerning which we have much information in the second chapter of this Epistle; the second for bringing to the knowledge of the Church things which are taking place beyond the reach of ordinary communication, wherof we have many instances in the life of Christ, which was the complete manifestation of the Holy Ghost; the third for prophesying to the edification and comfort and exhortation of the Church, for the conviction and judgement, heart-searching and conversion, of the unbeliever, concerning which the fourteenth chapter of the Epistle quoted above is chiefly written; the fourth for doctrine, or teaching of those things which belong to the first principles and daily practice of the Christian life—a gift proper to the office of the pastor or teacher, concerning which we have hints in divers parts of Scripture, as Rom. xii. 7; Eph. iv. 11, 12; Hebr. v. 12—vi. 3. To these four forms of communication this gift of tongues was subservient, not so much to convey the intelligible matter, which it never could do in the Church, save when the gift of interpretation was also vouchsafed, as to shew that the person speaking from revelation, or from knowledge, or from prophesying, or from doctrine, was not speaking of himself, but by the Holy Ghost. Therefore he is set on to speak in a tongue “which no man understandeth,” which speaketh “not unto men, but unto God,” and comes out of that state into intelligible speech with an utterance, which you thereby know to proceed from the same hidden and invisible power which uttered the words unknown. That this is the the case is manifest to the observer, and it is made sure by asking the speaker, who always declareth that the words uttered in English are as much by power supernatural, and by the same power supernatural, as the words uttered in the language unknown. But no one hearing and observing the utterance could for a moment doubt it, inasmuch as the whole utterance, from the beginning to the ending of it, is with a power and strength and fulness, and sometimes rapidity of voice, altogether different from that of the person’s ordinary utterance in any mood; and I would say, both in its form and its effects upon a simple mind, quite supernatural. There is a power in the voice to thrill the heart and overawe the spirit after a manner which I have never felt. There is a march, and a majesty, and a sustained grandeur in the voice, especially of those who prophesy, which I have never heard even a resemblance to, except now and then in the sublimest and most impassioned moods of Mrs. Siddons and Miss O’Neil. It is a mere abandonment of all truth to call screaming or crying: it is the most majestic and divine utterance which I have ever heard, some parts of which I never heard equalled, and no part of it surpassed, by the finest execution of genius and (Page 199) of art exhibited at the oratorios in the Concerts of Ancient Music. And when the speech utters itself in the way of a psalm or spiritual song, it is the likest to some of the most simple and ancient chants in the cathedral service; insomuch that I have been often led to think that those chants, of which some can be traced up as high as the days of Ambrose, are recollections and transmissions of the inspired utterances in the primitive Church. Most frequently the silence is brok by utterance in a tongue, ant this continues for a longer or a shorter period, sometimes occupying only a few words, as it were filling the first gush of sound, sometimes extending to five minutes, or even more, of earnest and deeply-felt discourse, with which the heart and soul of the speaker is manifestly much moved, to tears and sighs and unutterable groanings, to joy and mirth and exultation, and even laughter of the heart. So far from being unmeaning gibberish, as the thoughtless and heedless sons of Belial have said, it is regularly formed, well pronounced, deeply-felt discourse, which evidently wanteth only the ear of him whose native tongue it is tom make ta very masterpiece of powerful speech. But as the apostle declareth that it is not spoken to the ear of man, but to the ear of God—”he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth” (1 Cor. xiv. 2)—we ought to stand in awe, and endeavour to enter into spiritual communion with that member of Christ, who is the mouth of the whole church unto God. Ah me! what a solemn thing it is to witness this utterance going forward, knowing that it is the Spirit of Jesus crying on a discourse with the invisible Father through one of our brethren, who therein representeth the whole Church, and standeth as our foreman speaking and pleading unto God. They who are impatient, and set light by this part of the utterance, or scoff at it, know not what they do, and should be pitied, as you would pity a clown who should thrust himself forward into the presence-chamber of the king to gaze and laugh—should be rebuked, as you would the profane wretch who went up to the altar to scatter abroad the bread and spill the wine which the priest was consecrating. How often have I had to sit under this offence! my only consolation, They know not what they do.
But, say they, of what use to listen to that which we understand not? The answer is manifold “ to him who uttereth it is very useful; “for he that speaketh in a tongue, edifieth himself,” through the speech, “though the understanding be unfruitful;” and thou oughtest to rejoice in the brother’s edification, especially if in a few seconds or minutes he is about to edify thee with a message brought from God. Useful, brother?—It is most useful for thee, in order to get the better of thine unbelief and irreverence—to abate thy trust in thine understanding, by shewing thee a thing which it cannot enter into—to make thee feel and acknowledge a present God speaking by his Spirit—to make sure unto thee the union of Christ with his people, speaking in them and by them, not as empty instruments, but as conscious spiritual creature. Ah me! it is the standing symbol of the “communion of the saints, and their fellowship with the Father and the Son,” not by means of intelligence, but by means of the Holy Ghost. But because intellect cannot grasp it, intellect would dash it to the ground, and deny that there is a spirit in man deeper than the intellect—that there is a Holy Ghost binding God to Jesus, and Jesus to the Church, and the Church with one another, and back again to God. The unknown part of the discourse is the symbol of the fountain secret, unseen and unknown—the known part, of the stream which issues from the fountain to cherish the life of all creatures. Doth a man refuse to drink of the clear, flowing stream, because he knows not the hidden and secret cavern within the bowels of the earth from which it hath flowed out? Ah! what a miscreant generation it is, and what misdeeds they have done under the sight of these sorrowful eyes! I have seen God’s sanctuary profaned, God’s mysteries gazed on and laughed at, God’s gentle and entreating voice set at nought—all because it issued from a fountain of unknown speech which they could not understand. In their ignorance they understand not that all which is known issueth from the unknown, in order that all knowledge may lead us to all worship.
“When I am praying in my native tongue,” said one of the gifted persons to me, “however fixed my soul be upon (Page 200) God, and him only, I am conscious to other thoughts and desires, which the very words I use force in before me. I am like a man holding straightforward to his home full in view, who, though he diverge neither to the right hand nor the left, is ever solicited by the many well-known objects on every hand of him. But the moment I am visited with the Spirit, and carried out to God in a tongue which I know not, it is as if a deep covering of snow had fallen on all the country round, and I saw nothing but the object of my desire and the road which leadeth into it. I am more conscious than ever to the presence of God. He and he only is in my soul. I am filled with some of of the mind of God, be it joy or grief, desire, love, pity, compassion, wrath, or indignation; and I am made to utter it in words which are full of power over my spirit; but not being accessible to my understanding, my devotion is not interrupted by associations or suggestions from the visible or intellectual world: I feel myself, as it were, shut in with God into his own pavilion, and hidden close from the invasions of the world, the devil, and the flesh.” In these few words the mystery and the end of the gift of tongues are accurately set forth.
In the same breath, in perfect continuance, sometimes in constant sequence, as word followeth word in common discourse, sometimes with such a pause as a speaker makes to take his breath, the English part flows forth in the same fulness of voice, majesty of tone, and grandeur of utterance. This is that with which we have have properly to do—God and the speaker with the other: and as God speaketh in the Church for edification, this is always the largest part, four times, or ten times, or even twenty times, as much being known as is unknown. The unknown is, so far as concerneth us, the sign that the known is a message from God, prophesying under the power of the Spirit, speaking as one is moved by the Holy Ghost, and not any offering of the enlightened and pious mind for the benefit of the brethren—that it is Jesus, the Head of the Church, occupying the speech, and using the tongue of his servant, to speak the things which he desireth at that time to be spoken and heard. Wherein the person is not used as a trumpet merely for speaking through, but as an intelligent, conscious, loving, holy creature, to be possessed in these his inward parts, and used by the Lord of All, the indwelling Head of the Church. He yieldeth his will unto Jesus, to be used thus in his act of faith, self resigning; and Jesus, using his will, doth, through the spirit and by the tongue of the man, utter forth what words he pleaseth to utter. In uttering the unknown, and in the uttering the known part of prophesying, he is equally and alike under the power of Jesus until the word comes forth—in both cases equally conscious in his speech to the thing which is uttered—filled with the joy or grief, with the love or hatred, with the entreaty, or reproof, or indignation—in one word, with the spirit of it. There is no difference in the state of the speaker; he is equally unconscious, equally unintelligent, equally possessed, and equally consenting to be possessed—aye, and until his word be uttered. He can refuse his will, and so quench the Spirit; or, being commanded by those who have rule over him, he can cease to give his will, and so arrest the utterance of the Spirit. He is all the while a responsible agent; and according to his degree of willingness doth permit or prevent the largeness of the Spirit’s utterance. He is all the while pleasing or offending Jesus; and Jesus hath delight and the Church profit in him accordingly—he himself satisfaction and clearness of conscience in the use of his gift. But the work of responsibility is entirely confined to the spirit or will of the person, which is, in fact, the only seat of responsibility, the mind, the understanding, and the feeling, or as it is commonly called, the heart, being only a serving creature—a thing of the flesh, without which the spirit shall exist in the separate state—with which the spirit hath nothing to do but to keep it to its work and entreat it kindly—from which the spirit is as widely separated as God is from the dust. God is the fountain of the spirit, the dust of the origin of the fleshly creature. I am not writing metaphysically, but describing a reality; yet such a reality as hath given me more insight into metaphysics than all books which I have read, and all lectures which I have heard. It seems to me always to realise the views of man’s being that I was wont to hear from the mouth of (Page 201) that most gifted philosopher and most profound thinker, our dear Coleridge, whom may the Lord abundantly bless in the decline of this days! as he hath blessed me with more instruction than any other uninspired man, living or dead.
There is no difference, I have said, between the actual state of the speaker in uttering the unknown and the known words, the one being as pure an utterance of the the Holy Ghost as is the other. And when the intelligible words are uttered, they become vehicles of meaning in his mind and to his heart, just as they are to the mind and the heart of the hearers. The unknown words are just as much unknown to him as to us, and the known words are just as much known. He becomes the subject of Christ’s teaching just as we are, and he is now responsible for the lessons taught just as we are. This, no doubt, makes a great difference as to the degree of absorption which he hath in God, for now he is assailed boy the associations and feelings which are connected with the thing he is uttering. And his faithfulness is put to a sterner proof: for as the word draweth on word, and sentence followeth sentence, he may shrink form the consequences of going forward. His feelings of love, and friendship, and favour, to those whom he is called upon to rebuke, may arrest the current of his willingness. Every opinion, every prejudice, every passion, every affection, every infirmity, every fibre of the flesh which remaineth uncrucified, will now arise to prevent the Spirit from uttering what it is his mind to utter: for the flesh lusteth against the Spirit. The utterance in English is far more trying the utterance in the unknown tongue to him who uttereth it. I can conceive a thousand temptations in the way of hastening beyond the mind and temper of the Spirit. We may minister to Him—nay, what even of the flesh is living will serve in to him fuel of its own; and it is only boy the strong hand of the Lord upon the prophet that the utterance is not marred or mangled. But his care for his Church will, I believe, prevent such intermingling; as we see was the case of Balaam, who, if they would have given him the whole world, would not go beyond the word of the Lord.
Of those who have exercised the gift of tongues in my church, it is remarkable that the females have it in the form of prophesying alone; the men have it in all four forms mentioned by Paul, of revelation, of knowledge, of prophecy, and of doctrine. And this is according to the Scriptures, where it is prophesied that in the last days, which Peter declared to have begun at the day of Pentecost, “our sons and daughters should prophesy, and our servants and our handmaidens.” (Joel, ii. 28; compared with Acts, xi. 17.) And at the same time, women are forbidden to teach (1 Tim. ii. 12.); nor to raise questions upon the things which are said in the Church (1 Cor. xiv. 34. 35); but to keep silence in all respects, except when moved by the Spirit to pray or to prophesy: in which case particular instructions are given to them (1 Cor. xi. 1—16) how to carry themselves, as as still to preserve their place of subjection to the man. Some would have it, that women are to keep silence always in the churches, even when the Holy Ghost comes upon them with power, interpreting the injunction in 1 Cor. xiv. as absolute and unlimited. This, I have no hesitation in saying, is an unsound interpretation, against the intention of the gift of prophecy, which is for edifying the Church—against the apostolic instructions concerning the manner of their prophesying (1 Cor. xi.)—against the spirit of the texts (1Cor. xiv. 34; 1 Tim. ii. 11) quoted in its favour, which have both reference to taking authority upon themselves, and stepping out of their place—against the scriptural manner of speaking concerning persons under the Holy Ghost, which is, that not they but the Holy Ghost speaks (Matt. x. 20; Acts, ii. 4; v. 32; xx. 23; xxi. 11 John, xv. 26)—against the judgment of many interpreters as Grotius, Locke, Scott, Brown, and the practice of the primitive Church, as expressly declared both be Tertullian and Cyprian—and against the practice of all churches, whereof no one using a liturgy imposeth silence upon women, or preventeth them speaking when even the men may speak in prayer. I am not arguing this matter at present, nor justifying the order which I have taken in the Church concerning it, but simply recording the fact, that while the speaking tongues hath come to the men, seeking their utterance in all the four heads, it hath only come to women, seeking their utterance (Page 202) in the one head of prophesying; which, therefore, I conclude the Spirit intendeth they should occupy, at all times and places, and in all presences, where it pleaseth the Spirit to bring the power upon them. If that word of the apostle (1 Cor. xiv. 24) had been intended of prophesying, it would have been written either “let not your prophetesses speak,” or “let not your women prophesy;” but being “let not your women speak,” it plainly intendeth, let them not break silence of their own mind, nor take upon them in the understanding to utter any thing. To apply it to the Holy Ghost speaking in them, would be entirely to preclude them from the use of the gift; because a church, in the apostolic and true sense, means any tow or three met together in the name of the Lord. It would actually reduce the women to silence, save which alone, and so subvert the proper nature of prophecy, which is for the edifying of the Church (1 Cor. xiv. 4, 31). Nothing more fully shews me what a letter-killed state the Church is come into, than the way in which the whole work of God has been resisted, upon the strength of that single precept, that “women should keep silence,” which no Church till now hath interpreted in the letter since the world began. But, indeed, there is no longer a Church interpreting the word of God by the Spirit, but a number of intellects hammering away at the letter of a book. The Roman Catholic use of the Scriptures is nothing so frightful as the use which Protestants are now making to them. But to return to our delineation of the gifts.
The difference between the gift of prophesying, which is exercised mostly by the women amongst us, and the gift of revelation, standeth chiefly in this, that the former hath the Church, the latter the word of God, for its object. The prophet or prophetess speaketh from no text or passage Scripture to reveal the mystery or the doctrine contained in it, as doth he who useth tongues for revelation, but doth address words of exhortation, edification, and comfort so the Church (1 Cor. xiv,. 3), most frequently introduced by words in an unknown tongue, which are the sign of inspiration to those who have love enough to believe, or discernment enough to perceive, or previous acquaintance enough to know, that the person speaking is not making feigned words, in order to pass off some invention of his own for an inspiration of God. To the Church, who recognise the speaker to be a brother or sister in Christ, the tongue answereth for a sign that he is coming forth with something from God—that he is speaking as he is moved by the Holy Ghost. And lest, after he cometh to the English part, we should relapse again into infidelity, and be hearing as if it were the word of the speaker only, it happeneth not unfrequently that he is carried back into the tongue for a short while, as it were to carry us back into the presence fo the Holy Ghost, from which we are too ready to slip away. But in the case of revelation it is quite different. The person needeth to have the word of God before him, or to be listening to the reading in it: the former is the most fruitful way of it. Then, even as he readeth, the spirit like inspiration darteth light into his mind, when it is revelation, or love into his heart, when it is teaching; and he uttereth most commonly in a tongue first, then in English, then in a tongue again, and again in English, short sentences as it were, turn and turn about; every thing coming thus sealed with the demonstration of the Spirit. This operation of the Holy Ghost is very wonderful to behold: the fulness of the mind and heart, the rapidity of the utterance, the difficulty and sometimes struggling of the organs to get disburdened of it, are not more demonstrative of supernatural agency, that is the matter uttered demonstrative that this agency is that of the Holy Ghost. Such depths of doctrine, such openings of truth, such eagle-glances into the mind of God, such purity of love, such earnestness of exhortation, and, in one word, such heavenly exaltation of spirit, heard I never from man’s lips, as I have heard from those speaking in this manner by the Holy Ghost. And the same of those prophesying: the heavenly holiness, the blessed unity, the living and life-giving spirit of their discourse, passeth all understanding. I knew it not to be of man, by that which stumbled so many, because there were none of the peculiarities of a system—none of the speculations of the age—none of the idiosyncrasies of the person in it. It was after no kind but the Catholic kind of God—it is living water—it is marrow and fatness. And the man who feels it not to be so may (Page 203) be a sound-minded man, orthodox, evangelical, eloquent, argumentive, or any thing else, but he lacketh one thing, and that the chief thing, viz. spiritual discernment—the unction of the Holy One—the mind of Christ. Of this I have no doubt, and without qualification I do express it. I say not, therefore, that he is not a Christian; but that he is not spiritual, I do unhesitatingly say. He is like the Corinthians, of whom Paul spake thus: “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat, for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able; for ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (1 Cor. iii.1—3.)
There is another distinction to be made before the thing which we have received in our Church is fully understood. It is not the gift of tongues, or the speaking with tongues, properly so called, but the gift of prophecy, as distinguished from the speaking with tongues in the apostolic enumeration of the gifts (1 Cor. xii. 10, and contrasted therewith throughout the 14th chapter). It is the superior gift of prophecy which we have received, and for which we desire to be thankful. The difference standeth in this, that he wo “spake with tongues” in the Church did nothing else than utter words, unknown alike to himself and to all the people; and therefore there was needed another, with the gift of interpretation. The one did, as it were, dream the dream of Pharaoh, which went from him and was not known; the other, like Joseph, did receive the interpretation thereof direct from God. As the speaker spake the unknown words, the meaning thereof arose upon the interpreter’s heart, and the proper native words came upon his lips. But he was all the while as ignorant of the foreign words as the utterer and the hearers of them. It was a spiritual gift, and not an act of translation from one tongue into another. In this that poor man, Mr. Pilkington, who hath written his own shame and infamy to the world, deceived himself, not or anyone else, labouring by a smattering of languages, and an enthusiastic mind, thinking he did God service, to come at the purport of the words which were uttered in the tongue. He tried it by translation and enthusiasm. Had he been ingenuous, I could have set him right at once, having written, fully a year ago, upon the nature of these gifts, and understood them then substantially as I understand them now; but receiving a mixed and confused account from him, that the words came to him by a spiritual influence, and not by an intellectual labour, I was afraid to prejudge the matter, knowing that a man might receive a gift who was not able to render a distinct account of it; and therefore took time, and gave him all opportunities of proving the matter, till I could fairly say it is not of the Holy Ghost, but of thine own enthusiastic fancy and erroneous understanding. The gift of interpretation of tongues is needful to make the gift of speaking with tongues to be of any profit to the Church; and therefore the apostle requireth that it should not be used unless there were an interpreter present, and even in such a case it should be by short sentences of two or three words, turn and turn about. These two collateral coefficient gifts, thus exercised, are profitable for bringing messages direct from the Spirit, without any possibility of being curtailed or exaggerated in the utterance of them; to which prophecy is liable more or less, according to the holiness and faithfulness of the prophet, except God specially interfere to prevent. For he speaking in a tongue knoweth not a word he speaketh, and he interpreting knoweth not what is to follow; and being taken together, they form an entire check upon one another, and are therefore profitable for bringing messages from God as form an oracle. It seemeth to me to be an infallible method of carriage for messages which God would have to come with all the weight of his own authority; whereas, prophesying he would have to depend upon the faithfulness of the speaker, and the discernment of the hearer—not to come, as the written word, with infallible authority, to which we must stoop down at once obedient, but as an utterance not to be despised but much to be valued, yet always to be proved by the Church. “Despise not prophesyings; prove all things; hold fast that which is good.” “Covet to (Page 204) prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.” Wherefore also certain tests are given by the Lord (Matt. Vii. 15—21), and by the apostles (1 Cor. xii. 2; 1 John, iv. 1—6; 1 Tim. iv. 1—4; 1 Pet. ii. &c.), whereby the true prophet is to be discerned from the false; and all these tests lie in the substance fo the ting uttered, not in any sign or manner, teaching taht the hearer is as responsible as the utterer of prophecy, and not the speaking with tongues, is that which we have received. It is commonly preceded by a tongue, and occasionally mingled with it; but nine parts out of ten are in our own tongue, spoken for edification, exhortation, and comfort. Therefore all these objections against using it in the Church without an interpreter, fall to the ground, like those against women speaking. The only two refuges of those who dislike the whole subject, and would fain find a shelter against it in the word of God, are thus taken away.
And here endeth our first head of description, which I would follow up with one reflection, that the peculiar and proper name of Christ, as the Head of the Church, is “He which baptiseth with he Holy Ghost, “ and that this office was not fulfilled till the day of Pentecost, in what manner and with what effect is set forth in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, and that it is the distinguishing promise and express prerogative of Christian baptism to convey the same, and that all the churches were introduced into that divine and supernatural standing, and that the whole body of Scripture speaketh of it as the proper calling of the Church in all ages to put forth the same,—ought we not to be exceedingly grieved and afflicted to find ourselves in the poor, miserable purblind, coldhearted and powerless state in which we are? Ought we not to humble ourselves before the Lord on account of our misuse of this precious gift and endowment, and to mourn and weep because, through our unbelief an unfaithfulness, the Lord Jesus and his glory have been hidden from the sight and knowledge of men? And when, not only from the constant testimony of the Scriptures, and the necessary consequences fo the doctrine of our union with Christ, but from the fact of the return of the gifts, it is put beyond all question that the destitution of all grace, and goodness, and power, into which we are come, is owing—as in the case of man’s fall from paradise into the deluge, of Israel’s fall from the head of kingdoms to grinding misery—not to any change of God’s mind concerning the Church, or to any temporary purpose which he set up for a few years with the view of taking away again, “for his gifts and callings are without repentance,” but singly and solely to our unbelief of his goodness, and to our unfaithfulness in the gift committed to our trust;—we ought to be sore afflicted, and to cry unto him day and night, for the transgressions which we and our fathers have transgressed against him, in grieving, quenching, and almost blaspheming his Holy Spirit. If the Jews, against the day of their recognizing Jesus of Nazareth, whom their fathers crucified, and the children of their fathers have blasphemed, when “they look upon him whom they have pierced, shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him as one that is in bitterness for a first-born” (Zech. xii. 10), then how should we mourn now that we have discovered that for fifteen hundred years and more the Church hath been shutting her door against the glory of Christ, rejecting the spirit of power, and keeping herself in misery, and the world in darkness—hiding from the sight of men the beauty and blessedness of Christ in his church—prostituting herself in her ignorance and wickedness to the kings of the earth, and doing every thing to provoke the eyes of his jealousy and glory! Oh! if in that day when God poureth out upon the house of David an upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplication, and they come to recognise the glory of him they have so long rejected, there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddo, verily, verily, how much more in the Church, which beginneth now to discover the sad reality, that for long long ages she hath been living in the rejection of Christ glorified, and in the despite of the Holy Spirit of grace—knowing Christ some little in the flesh, but refusing to know him in the spirit—ignorant of the power of his resurrection, not baptised into the fellowship of his (Pg. 205) sufferings, and little conformed to is death. Oh! for the spirit of wisdom and understanding in the knowledge of God! Oh! that the eyes of our understanding were enlightened,k that we might know what is the hope of our calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power with us who believe, “according to the working of his mighty power, which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his won right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body; the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Ah me! if Paul spake these words by the Holy Ghost, if this be the true delineation of the Church, her dignity and her occupation, her privilege and her fulness, then I ask to what a pass are we brought, and in what a miserable condition have we been for these sixteen centuries! And now that God is awakening us out of our dream, and shewing us what fruitless encumberers of the ground we are, and what unprofitable servants—oh! now that he is calling us to account for our stewardship, which we have squandered and prostituted—what repentance and godly sorrow ought there to be felt amongst us, and what continuation of prayer and fasting, until the Lord take off the load of our guilt, and return to us in mercy and in loving-kindness!
Ah me! there is a Fast approaching: I bless God for it. Let this sin of having rejected the work of the Holy Ghost be above all others remembered; for as the Holy Ghost is the author of all holiness, and blessedness, and glory to a people, so the quenching and the grieving, the shortening and the hindering of him in his holy operations, is the cause of all sin and misery, of all disease and wretchedness. For an example of what the mourning should be of those who hear these things, let me again refer to the sorrow of Jerusalem when she cometh to discover that Jesus whom they crucified si the Lord of glory: “And the land shall mourn every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart; all the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.” And to all those who rightly apprehend the nature of this transgression, and humble themselves for the guilt thereof, I believe that the Lord will return in great mercy and loving-kindness, in great power and glory. For the time to visit Zion is fully come, and the wall of Jerusalem shall be rebuilt in these troublous times. We stand upon the very threshold of glorious time to those who know their God, who shall do exploits in the wide world, even proceeding forth int he spirit and power of Elias to preach the everlasting Gospel of the kingdom to every nation and kindred upon the earth, saying, Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come. That hour is fully come, and the ambassadors must go forth from the side of Jesus the Lord of glory, with powers plenipotentiary, to sound the trumpet around the world, and lift up the voice with strength, saying to the nations of the earth, Prepare to meet your God. They shall go, and none shall let them; they shall speak, and none shall put them to silence; they shall command, and kings shall tremble and obey; because itis the time of God’s witness-bearing. “And if any man will hurt” those witnesses whom he is about to send forth, “fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies; and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will.” To warn this nation, to warn the wold as far as I have power to do it, is the reason for which I take up my pen to write in this publication, which, though I approve not in some things, is read by immortal souls; and my commission is to every creature under heaven. O Lord! who canst convert all things to thy glory, do thou make this also to become a vehicle of thy truth!
Digitized by Charles A. Sullivan
- Taken from Fraser’s Magazine. Volume 5. No. 25. February, 1832 Starting at Page. 198
- See also: Edward Irving’s Defense on Unknown Tongues: Part 1.
- Edward Irving’s Defense on Unknown Tongues: Part 3.