صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

ued existence. On the contrary, a time was to be anticipated and hoped for the time of the completion or fulfilment-when there should be no more prophecy. All this is stated with great clearness and definiteness. It completes for us the beautiful picture of a preacher's office, free, christian, confined to no situation, having no human call or appointment. It was an office, which the primitive church in its simplicity could enjoy, which a world adorned by the name of a church, in its wisdom, cannot enjoy; so little can we enjoy it that if the Spirit should once more act in the same manner as he did in the early christian times, the worldly arm of a civil power, which has the guardianship of the church, knows how to extinguish the office by law and mad-houses.


While thus the nature of christian prophecy can be stated almost with perfect precision, on the other hand there rests upon the phenomenon that is wont to be designated by the words, 'speaking with tongues," a darkness whose impenetrableness the older commentators perceived, and which has, by no means, been removed by the additional, very praiseworthy labors of modern interpreters. This darkness, I imagine, can never be perfectly dispelled. Far as possible am I from supposing that I can accomplish it. I shall only pursue my duty as an interpreter, while I undertake to say the few things on the subject which I am able to say. I shall here make that reference to the labors of the latest interpreters, already named in the Commentary, which is allowed by the narrow limits which I am compelled to put to this treatise. A fundamental exhibition of what has been propounded by them of itself, without any examination of it, would occupy more room than I have. I am, therefore, compelled to refer those readers who wish to look over the entire discussion to the treatises of those learned men themselves, which besides are not difficult of access. This I do with the more pleasure, as the excellent things laid down in them all are so numerous that no one will regret the reading of them. The path that I here take seems to me to be demanded by my position as an interpreter of the epistle to the Corinthians. The author of a monogram might indeed choose his point of departure as he pleases. He might begin, γλώσσαις λαλεῖν.

11 Cor. 13: 8-10.


perhaps, in the most fitting manner, with the notices in the Acts of the Apostles. The interpreter of Paul, however, has to direct his eye first to that which the apostle himself says upon the topic, and merely to call in those notices to his aid, provided the words of the apostle are not sufficient of themselves to afford the necessary light.


Two observations I must here premise. One relates particularly to the investigation of the thing; the other to the advantage which we are authorized to expect from the words of Paul. Both are allied to each other. Even the latest authors1 seem to me in general not to have sufficiently considered what, in a subject of this kind, is the principal difficulty, namely, that our inquiry cannot be so much. grounded on the nature of the gift itself, as on the mode in which Luke and Paul have presented it to us, or the views of it which their representations will authorize. They are the only men whom we have to testify on the subject, and they can do it from their own observation. We would not be misunderstood here, as though the subject were presented by them otherwise than it was in reality. On the contrary, even if they had so desired, they could not have given an untrue representation, because they wrote for contemporaries and eye-witnesses, and even for those who shared in the gift itself. If they had fully delineated its nature and its external marks, then we should have accepted their view as perfectly authentic. This, however, they do not do. On the contrary, Luke supplies a few scanty notices. Paul offers to his readers, who were familiar with the thing, some judgments and observations upon it. Our curiosity, simply aroused but not satisfied with the information, can but supply in the way of conjecture what the history has not given. This course ought to remain unprohibited. We should not, however, forget that we are endeavoring to supply an historical fact, which is either wholly unique in its kind, or yet for us so obscure that we do not know whether among the phenomena presented to our experience any thing similar can be found or not. It hence follows that we are to be on our guard, first, lest we place too much reliance on analogies drawn from other facts, not knowing whether the observed analogies

1 Baumlein only excepted, who merits the highest praise of all, especially for his thoroughness, method and impartiality.

are essential or accidental, real or only apparent; secondly, lest we should wish to press with our psychological principles-derived only from experience-upon an actual phenomenon where all experience fails us; and thirdly, lest our metaphysical or theological views should decide questions where historical arguments alone can determine. If arguments of this nature fail us, then the question must remain unsettled. By observing these cautions we are, to be sure, cut off from the most copious sources of statement and illustration; we also subject ourselves to the danger of being compelled to confess our ignorance on most points. At the same time we avoid, as it seems to me, the far greater danger of creating a fact for ourselves, which is like the actual truth hardly in the remotest features.


The second observation is this-we may venture to hope that we can ascertain from the words of the apostle, not the nature of the gift of tongues in Corinth, but the nature of this gift as Paul himself understood it. He was in the possession of it; he imparted it to others.2 Thus far, accordingly, we may expect that he will delineate it as it was; that nothing will be said by him which was foreign from it. But the violent proceeding of the Corinthians in relation to it, he could not know from his own observation. What he had learned through others could not but be imperfect, because these may have known it only of Corinth.3 That it was actually so, the handling of the subject which he has deigned to give is an incontrovertible evidence. He exhibits the 'speaking with tongues,' always, as an actual gift of the Divine Spirit-as a donative which, good in itself, and salutary to its possessor, could not have been fitted for use in the church on account of its not being understood. Paul recommends that it be employed but rarely in the assemblies. How can we therefore, how dare we admit that this was the gift of 2 Acts : 6.

11 Cor. 14: 18.

3 Eichhorn, Einl. III. 121, 128, has also made a similar remark. He does not, however, apply it correctly. He has well explained the caution which the apostle observed in his treatment of the subject; but the hypothesis, which he frames out of the words of the apostle that relate to the disorder in the Corinthian church, is altogether inconsiderate. Here Eichhorn has gone, characteristically, into as copious details as if he knew more about it than Paul himself.

tongues in Corinth? However any one may judge finally of the Spirit himself and of his gifts, still all may unite in this, that the gift in question was the result of a divine energy, and that its workings could be disclosed only in the individual who was himself warmed and enlivened by it in favor of that which was good and holy. But that this last effect could not be attributed to the Corinthians generally, our epistle must have probably convinced us. Of particular persons nothing is here said. The assertion respects the majority, since in Corinth the speaking with tongues was excessive, and was shared in by multitudes. The majority, however, were far from possessing the christian feeling which could induce us to believe that the Holy Spirit had made them particularly, in preference to many others, his abode and scene of operation. The greater part [of this exhibition] in Corinth was probably mere imitation and parade. But in what manner exactly this was shown, how far it proceeded, and into what caricatures it transformed the original phenomenonon these points Paul himself had perhaps no knowledge; or if he had, he concealed it, because he did not learn it from his own observation. He contented himself, for the moment, in limiting its excessive use in the church, until he could be present in person to distinguish truth from falsehood and expose the hypocrisy. We, however, who have nothing at command besides that which Paul communicates in his epistles, must be contented, in our efforts to form an acquaintance with the subject in general, simply with what flows in a direct way from his words. We may also compare the notices in the Acts of the Apostles. At all events, that must be regarded as peculiar to the subject as developed at Corinth which cannot be brought into agreement with the notices of Luke.


To the inquiry, how Paul understood the gift of tongues, we must answer, first, that he recognized it as an actual speech or language, and as entirely foreign from the notion of an inarticulate, senseless sound. Whether any thing like this existed at Corinth, we must

This is the view of Bardili and Eichhorn; also of Bertholdt. It may, however, be variously confuted. Yet Olshausen II. 575, 577, has assented to it with some limitations.

This, properly speaking, is maintained only by the defenders of the view in question, i. e. Bardili, etc.

leave, after what has been said, undetermined. That Paul himself had no such idea is obvious not only from 1 Cor. 14: 9, but also from the fact that it is impossible that he could have ever regarded such a senseless stammering and howling-if it came out fully-as any thing good, edifying, or desirable; in short that he could view it as a gift of God, and admonish the Corinthians (which he has actually done), that God was to be served by them in an orderly manner,while, as it will appear, he has not uttered a word about any thing unknown or unintelligible. Some persons may refer to "the groanings which cannot be uttered," but of this we not only know far too little which would enable us to build aught upon it, but in the passage before us there is nothing at all said of "groanings;" it is 'speaking," and a 'declaration.24 Therefore, there is not the remotest resemblance in the expression even. That this speech or language was audibly uttered cannot be inferred with certainty from what Paul has said. All these phenomena-the 'interpretation' itself not excepted-might as well have occurred when any one who was influenced by the Spirit actually spoke. But on the ground that one made known the secret workings of his mind by mere pantomime, by an inaudible moving of the mouth outwardly, then he alone could understand, whom the Spirit had put into a similar state. The unlearned, or uninitiated, however, must have been almost compelled to regard it as a sign of madness, especially if it often occurred. At all events the words, let there be silence," is decidedly against it. If we must grant, however, that the inarticulate speaking was a distinguishing mark of the gift of tongues as conferred at Corinth, still, in this case, there must have been discovered in the apostle's words some vestige of a deviation from the general form in which the gift was manifested. But no such trace can be found. The tongue, as Paul understands it, was accordingly not merely a discourse, but a discourse audibly uttered. Meanwhile, nothing further is said about the length or brevity, the fulness or the marked abruptness of it. The tongue was not, however, a single one, but there appear to have been various species of it, distinguished from

1 στεναγμούς ἀλαλήτους Rom. 8: 26.

3 λαλεῖν

2 στεναγμούς

4 λογός

This has been already remarked in the Commentary on 1 Cor. 14: 2. Η ερμηνεία. * σίγατω

« السابقةمتابعة »