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different conclusion, and regard the gift of tongues as a great missionary instrument, designed especially to facilitate the proclamation of the gospel to nations of unknown language. But the after history fails to confirm this view. In all the subsequent instances in which the gift is mentioned, it appears not as a missionary instrument or means of imparting instruction, but as a seal of the grace already given, or as an incident of worship. Thus Cornelius and his house spoke with tongues after they had been taught by Peter the way of salvation (Acts x.). Thus the subjects of John's baptism whom Paul found at Ephesus spoke with tongues after the apostle had baptized them, and laid his hands upon them (Acts xix.). Thus Paul writes to the Corinthians: “He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the Church. If any man speak in a tongue, let one interpret. But, if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the Church ” (1 Cor. xiv.). Plainly, such instances and such language forbid the assumption that the gift of tongues was specifically a means of communication. Even on the Day of Pentecost it was more a divine token and means of arresting attention than it was a means of instruction. The great missionary speech of that occasion was the address of Peter after the speaking with tongues had ceased.

The period covered by the more extraordinary gifts cannot be definitely determined. The impression made by the history is, that already at the close of the apostolic age well-authenticated cases of their appearance

Some of the ante-Nicene writers, notably

were rare.

Irenæus, speak of their continued occurrence. Origen believed that they had not wholly vanished; but, at the same time, he used language implying a conviction that his own age was less fruitful in them than the apostolic era. In general there is but little record of specific instances of miraculous working in the second and third centuries. Not till the time of spiritual declension and monastic aberrations did the Church begin, by its heaped-up narratives, to bring out its parody of the New Testament miracles. No one, indeed, is authorized to mark off any particular period as the age of miracles, or even to exclude the present age. Still, it is an unfounded expectation, an abnormal craving, which would look for supernatural manifestations in the apostolic mode and measure. The Montanist and Irvingite theories run counter to the plan of the divine administration. They ignore the true goal of Christianity, which is not to emphasize a dualism between the natural and the supernatural, but so to pervade and to sanctify the whole nature of man, that in all his activities God shall work in him both to will and to do of His good pleasure.

It is noteworthy that the same oracles which record the bestowment of these marvellous gifts warn against an overvaluation of them. In words which supremely exalt the ethical stand-point of Christianity, and forbid



1 Cont Hær., ii 31, 32.

2 Cont. Celsum, i. 2,46. In the following sentence Origen enumerates the kinds of miracles which he supposed to be still performed by Christians : “They expel evil spirits, and perform many cures, and foresee certain events according to the will of the Logos.” Justin Martyr notices especially the first of these (Dial. cum Tryph., Xxx.). See also Tertullian, Ad Scapulam, ii., iv.; Apol., xxiii.; Cons. Apost., viii. 1, 2.

that the moral should in any wise be subordinated to the marvellous, Paul teaches that love is the highest gift, without which power even to remove mountains is of no significance, and language rivalling the speech of angels an empty sound.


The constitution of the Church under the apostles exhibits both a hierarchical and a democratic principle. As the apostles were the first appointed officers of the Church, so also they were its highest authority, and the starting-point from which all subordinate authority was derived. This was the hierarchical principle. But in the manner in which the apostles used their authority, as also in the prevalent conception of the Christian priesthood, a democratic principle came into operation. The apostles administered the Church much in the spirit of Peter's instruction to the elders, “not as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock” (1 Pet. v. 3). So far as was practicable, they acted in co-operation with the Christian congregation. Hence, we find the congregation apparently sharing in such a matter as the election of a member to the apostolic college in place of Judas; and as respects the first deacons, the apostles did not so much as claim the prerogative of nomination, but left the selection to the free choice of the assembly, and simply ordained the candidates presented. A similar respect was shown to the will of the congregation in the appointment of presbyters. Their ordination was ordinarily the function of an apostle or the delegate of an apostle; though it would appear that presbyters themselves were competent to take part in, if not indeed to execute, the ordination ceremony' (1 Tim. iv. 14). Perhaps, also, in case of less competent and experienced churches, the apostles may have nominated presbyters; but it was no doubt the general custom to employ the vote of the congregation, and to give it practically a determining power. Clement of Rome testifies that the ministry were appointed “with the consent of the whole church.” 3 The Coptic constitution of the Church of Alexandria witnesses to the existence of the right of election at the middle of the second century, a fact strongly indicative of the existence of the right from the beginning 3 Even in a matter of discipline, we find Paul addressing, not a select corps of officers, but the whole Corinthian Church. In short, the apostles treated their fellowChristians as citizens, rather than as mere subjects. All were regarded as belonging to a royal priesthood (1 Pet. ii. 9). Liberty to teach and to participate in the worship was limited only by the talents of individual members, and by the demands of good order (1 Cor. xiv. 23-26).

As the more important officers of the Church, the following classes may be enumerated: (1) apostles, (2) prophets, (3) evangelists, (4) presbyters, or bishops, (5) deacons. The first three classes were general officers, the last two local. The pastors and teachers men

1 In the Alexandrian Church, even down to the beginning of the fourth century, it was an established custom that the body of presbyters should ordain the bishop. See Lightfoot on the Epistle to the Philippians, Dissertation I.

2 Epist. ad. Corinth., xliv.
8 Pressensé, Apostolic Era, Book II., chap. v.


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tioned by Paul (Eph. iv. 11) may be regarded as embraced in the fourth class. The form of the original suggests that these two words were meant to denote the same group of officers. The presbyters, to be sure, may have occupied at the outset more distinctively the position of pastors, or administrators, than that of teachers; but certainly teaching came very soon to be regarded as an important part of their office. This is sufficiently indicated by the qualifications which Paul emphasizes in his later Epistles (1 Tim. iii. 2; Titus i. 9).

The New Testament seems to indicate that for the apostolic office two qualifications were counted essential: first, that the incumbent should have been a witness of the facts of the gospel history, especially the resurrection; and, secondly, that he should have received a positive call from Christ to the office (Acts i. 21-22; 1 Cor. xv. 8; Gal. i. 1). In case of the original eleven, both of these conditions were evidently fulfilled. They were also fulfilled in the case of Paul. In virtue of a special manifestation of the ascended Christ, he was enabled to mention himself among the witnesses of the resurrection. His call also was so direct and positive that he could write: “ Paul an apostle, not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ.” Concerning Matthias, we have a less direct and formal assurance. He was a witness of Christ's resurrection, but as to his call we have only the account of his election by the Christian assembly. As this election took place before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, some have entertained the suspicion that Matthias was an apostle by

1 So Lightfoot and others.

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