Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

them sometimes to write, seem to imply that they did not do so at other times, when that direction was wanting. It is very natural for those wbo have once heard the voice of God to be anxious to know what He says, when by distance they are debarred from the advantage of hearing Him themselves : but still we question the propriety, and consequently the benefit, of so doing; while the occasion for misrepresentation and falsehood which it gives is grievous to think on.

The first attack which Satan makes upon what is good, is intended to destroy it at once. If he is foiled here, he then gets into it and spoils it. This he did in the Jewish and Christian churches at large; and this he does in detail in every human heart, and in every human action. In the Trembleurs de Cevennes there can be no doubt that the Holy Ghost was manifested in power : of the direct attempts of Satan to destroy them we have abundant proofs in the political history of the times: failing here, their great spiritual enemy caused some of his own children to do wonders, and to be very valiant against their persecutors, resisting the oppression in the same spirit as that in which the oppressors oppressed. Those false miracles and true miracles were manifested together; and the pastors, who should have led the people to discriminate between the work of God and the work of Satan, being unable to do so, the gifts were abused, the Holy Spirit was quenched, and he ceased to continue to manifest himself. In the Convulsionnaires de SaintMédard it is probable that some pious Jansenist sufferers were praying in faith to Jesus for relief, who heard and answered their requests : others did the same with similar effect: the cry of a miracle was raised; and Satan contrived to have it imputed to the dead man at whose tomb it first occurred, and not to the risen and glorified Jesus. The Jansenists, with all their merits, had still much of Popish error cleaving to them: the priests did not direct their flocks according to the written word, but according to the received traditions of their false church; and the Holy Ghost, being thus made to confirm a lie by his manifestations, withdrew his power altogether.

In the work which is now, and has been in these latter years, going on upon the continent, the same steps are being trod. The whole of Christendom is dead while thinking itself-particularly the Protestant part of it-remarkably lively and vigorous. The Holy Spirit is putting forth his power in some of the members of Christ, and Satan spoils it as fast as it is manifested. The Protestant pastors are confounded : some in terror conceal all that they have any knowledge of, not knowing what to make of that which they see, and conscious of inability to give the smallest direction to the gifted persons. The knowledge of the Scriptures amongst the mass of the Protestant

a

[ocr errors]

clergy of France-we limit the remark to those who are Evangelical among them-is at as low an ebb as it is amongst the Dissenters in England. It seems to be chiefly in the way of visions that the work has been going on; and the indisputable fact of the universal diffusion of the Clairvoyants, even supposing that every instance which has come to our knowledge is the work of Satan alone, is proof sufficient that there is, though unknown to us, a parallel work of God, which he is counterfeiting, in order to bring the other into disrepute.

Such, we have no doubt, is the true solution of that most extraordinary occurrence known in the history of France under the name of “ La Possession des Religieuses de Loudun.” In the year 1632 there was a profligate priest, named Urbain Grandier, who wished for his own infamous purposes to be made confessor to a convent of Ursulines; a case of by no means unusual occurrence in the Popish church, as we know from the life of De Bishop of Florence. Another priest, however, was nominated confessor in his stead; and one day, perceiving some extraordinary convulsions in the young nuns, he persuaded them that they were possessed of the devil, and proceeded to exorcise them according to the rules of the church. These girls in their terror declared, either spontaneously, or at the suggestion of his successful rival, that the devils were sent by Grandier; and the consequence was, that an order was sent by Cardinal de Richelieu to twelve judges, named by him, to try Grandier, and the unfortunate wretch was condemned to be buried alive; which sen. tence was carried into effect in 1634. The histories of the transaction are written with so much party spirit and warmth by those who lived at the time, or with such total want of necessary inquiry and evidence by those who lived later, that it would be fruitless to endeavour to unravel the mystery in these days. It is probable that there was some work of Satan, and that it was a counterfeit of some work of God; because his plan, on all spiritual subjects is to leave men in ease and security, and never stir actively except to destroy or injure some active work of God for the good of his church.

The facts witnessed in this case by the brother of the King of France, Louis XIII., of which he gave a certificate signed with his own hand, are most curious. “Un des diables qui possédoient la seur Agnes fit bientot voir sa plus haute rage, secouant diverses fois la fille en avant, et en arriere, et la faisant battre comme un marteau, avec une si grande vitesse que les dents lui en craquoient. Aprés diverses autres circonstances, la sœur Agnes porta un pied par le derriére de la tête jusq’au front, en sorte que les orteils touchaient quasi le nez.

Of another woman possessed, it is said, that a devil “exerça sur son corps de grandes violences et donna des marques horribles de sa rage. Il la

[ocr errors]

renversa trois fois en arrière en forme d'arc, en sorte qu'elle ne touchait au pavé que de la point des pieds et du bout du nez.”

The practical belief in the personal existence and operation of the devil seems to have died out of the church as completely as the practical belief of the indwelling Person of the Holy Ghost. πνευματοφεροι, or carriers of the Spirit, and θεοφοροι, or carriers of God, as Ignatius always called himself, would sound strange in the ears of modern professing Christians. But never shall we feel the value of an indwelling God, but as we apprehend the danger from a personal devil, who may become indwelling at any moment. It has been observed above, that there was probably some work of God going on at the time that this work of Satan took place; and we are strengthened in that opinion by the devil having assaulted an eminent saint of God in this country within the present year, and one who has had proof in their own person of the goodness and power of the Lord Jesus. This person was seized in the presence of three others, and forced to make hideous contortions of feature, set up a Satanic laugh and howl; the knees were beaten rapidly together ; the hips thrown out with a sharp jerk; the feet turned about in all directions from the ancles; with many other similar distortions, needless to mention. The first attack of this nature was not understood ; but the second was clearly perceived by the sufferer to be the work of the devil, and was quickly controlled and subdued by crying mightily, and in strong faith, to Jesus of Nazareth, to whom the devils are subject. The details of this case have been communicated to us in writing, with the signature of the sufferer, by a person who has seen them.

Visions are a part of the manifestation of the Holy Ghost promised by God through the mouth of his servant Joel, which are recapitulated in the Acts, and some instances given of them; but they are not enumerated in the catalogue of gifts which adorned the Corinthian church. The reason of this, probably, is, that the object of the Apostle there was to instruct them that the use of gifts was less for the personal advantage of the possessor than for the benefit of the whole body of Christ collectively: but visions must be more a matter of private instruction and edification to him who sees them; and it appears, from the practice of the Old-Testament seers, that they never presumed to communicate the subject of a vision unless the Spirit further directed them to do so. Moreover, visions are a work which is more likely to deceive men than any other, because more easily counterfeited by Satan. We have received an account of several visions seen by persons in Edinburgh, all of the lowest class, except one--namely, the pious minister who transmitted it. An officer in the navy also, now on service, and distinguished for his coolness and intrepidity in the hour of danger, had a vision of the Lord Jesus Christ, as accurately seen by him, and when he was wide awake, as ever any other object was presented to his senses. The person who is above referred to as having been assailed by Satan, has also had visions predicting events to befal them in their private affairs, extremely improbable to be accomplished, but which they have faith to believe will come to pass.-Visions seem to be the great engine with which Satan works in the unhappy followers of Joanna Southcote, who are in great numbers, and labouring indefatigably.

Šince, then, we have made it abundantly evident that the Lord has never left off striving with his church, the most important part of the inquiry still remains-namely, the causes which have led to the repeated and continued quenching of the Spirit;—which inquiry is not only important for the honour of God's long-suffering and loving-kindness, but also as a warning to ourselves not to quench it, but on the contrary to cherish and nurture it, now that He is putting forth his energies once more amongst us. A lady, upon hearing for the first time one of the persons who now speak in the Spirit, exclaimed, " Ah ! I know that voice: I spoke in it twenty years ago in Cambridge; but it was laughed at as enthusiasm and madness, and I never spoke in it again." Like scoffers and laughers, indeed, there are now in abundance; and we cannot but consider it as a matter of thankfulness to Almighty God, which we take as an omen for good, that, just before the time in which He caused His voice to be heard in the church again, He had raised up a body of men to devote themselves to the study of His written records with a minuteness that has been rarely bestowed before; and to strive to recal men from the glosses of commentators, and the vain traditions of Evangelical spiritualizers, to put faith in the plain word of God, and to say, with Luther, that “when the Bible says 'bull’it means a bull, and when it says a man’ it

In this way persons were prepared not to reject a thing merely because it did not fall in with the creeds of the Five-point men of the day, or with any other system of man's devising; but were ready to weigh every thing in the balance of the sanctuary, not in the deceitful scales of religious magazines.

The causes of the quenching of the Spirit are various. The pious minister on the Continent to whom we are indebted for the knowledge of what is taking place there, thinks that vanity in those who have had the gifts bas led to their misuse, and consequent withdrawal.

He says; “ Je crois certainement que ces manifestations ont une bonne origine; mais je ne crois pas qu'elles soient parfaites au point qu'il n'y ait aucun mélange ;

et ce que je crains par-dessus tout, c'est que l'instrument lui-même se prévale de ses dons, ce qui arrive si souvent; et qu'alors il ne s'attire des humiliations, et que ce qui a pu commencer par

means a man.

VOL. IV.NO.11.

3 E

l'Esprit ne finisse par la chair.”

la chair.” He says, very beautifully and appropriately, of those who have received the gifts in this country, “Oh entourons, donc, bien saintement ces chers instruments; et soyons nous-mêmes de plus en plus entourés des frayeurs de l'Eternel.” It is undoubtedly true, that vainglory in the possessor may

have caused the withdrawal from a particular individual; but it is owing to ignorance, or to something worse, in the pastors, that the gifts have been withdrawn from the whole church. If the Spirit had not been quenched from some such cause as this, He would have appeared in another gift in another member, although he would have withdrawn himself from the first : and it is not even pretended that any one pastor, in any one church where these manifestations have been made, possessed the remotest idea of what they were, or capacity to direct the people.

We by no means deny that some persons in this country also, who have received the gift of manifesting the power of the Holy Ghost, have abused it. All God's gifts have been abused, in all places, in all times, and by all people. We believe, that, when these powers were first manifested in Scotland, the individuals who had received one gift incorrectly supposed they had received all (an error into which it was very probable they would fall), and attempted to exercise those which had not been bestowed. The pastors, instead of endeavouring to correct such in the spirit of meekness, assailed them in the spirit of fiends. Moreover, we must be prepared to find the manifestations different in degree, force, and beauty, in different individuals; for the Holy Spirit evidently makes use of such instruments as He finds, without altering them to His purpose : and in this way only can we account for the different style of the Prophets and writers in the Bible; the only difficulty about which consists in the responsibility which each person is under for his use of the Spirit. In like manner the abuse of the gifts will vary in different individuals; and the Apostle instructs gifted persons, beyond all others, in 1 Cor. xiii., that the special object of our being entrusted with any thing is, that it may not be used for purposes of selfish pride and ostentation, but for the benefit of our fellow-creatures. Now we believe it to be utterly impossible for any but spiritual persons to discern the spirits of those who speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; and thereby distinguish between what is uttered by Him, and what is uttered by themselves in the abuse of the gifts: and thus spiritual men judge all things; yet are themselves judged, or discerned, of no man who is not spiritual.

Mr. Dodwell, in his Dissertation on Irenæus, tells us that the miraculous powers began visibly to decline between the years 220 and 250 A. D.; although there is distinct proof of

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »