Tongues, Gift of
Tongues, Gift Of.
This was an endowment first imparted to the apostles, anti apparently to all the assembled disciples, on the day of Pentecost, and afterwards continued to the Christians during the apostolic age. John the Baptist, himself a burning and a shining light. had testified of Christ, "He that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire." After Jesus had been crucified, and before he ascended, he breathed on his disciples and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." The influence so communicated must have been precious, but it was only the earnest of the inheritance, and not the entire fulfillment of John's prediction. By their secular views of the Messiah's sovereignty the disciples showed that they had not yet been favored with the full baptism of the Spirit. "When they were come together, they asked of him, saying, Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" This question implied entire confidence in the power of Christ, but it evinced no clear conceptions of the spirituality of his reign. Fifty days after the crucifixion the promise of the Father had its accomplishment, and the disciples received a special power when the Holy Ghost came upon them. Why was hope so long deferred? There was wisdom in this delay, as indicating divine presidency and direction in the ordering of the event. If the apostles were to be excited and bestirred merely by the dire experience they had passed through, the effect on natural principles should have been speedily consequent on the cause. Procrastination was calculated to sober tumultuous passion, and to restrain imperiling enterprise. In this view the descent of the Spirit received confirmation from occurring after a considerable interval of tranquility and inaction. The specific day had also its significance. Pentecost was the feast of first-fruits, the commencement and the consecration of the harvest: and it formed, therefore, the fitting moment for the formal introduction of that work of the Spirit by which was to be secured the spiritual harvest of Christ's finished work. It had also come to be regarded as commemorative of the giving of the law from Sinai-the magnificent initiation of the Mosaic economy — and the period of the latter event must certainly have coincided very nearly, if not absolutely, with that of the other (Ex 19:11). Then God spake, and the mountain burned with fire. The season so regarded was suitable for the introduction of another and related era, the inauguration of the Gospel economy and anew God reveals himself by analogous manifestations. "Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting." This sound resembled the roar of the tempest; but instead of proceeding from any point of the compass, it descended from heaven. Here, as in the wilderness, was the voice of God, a voice full of majesty. "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." Here we have the fiery attribute of Sinai. But now it takes the form of tongues, to denote that God while speaking was endowing with speech, and that his voice like echoing thunder would multiply itself through the reverberating media on which it fell. The tongues were cloven, but into what number of divisions we are not informed. As happens with the variable flames of a furnace, the gleaming points may have been unequally numerous. No one had all tongues in his gift; perhaps no two the same tongues, but in every case there was a plurality. The general subject has already been considered under SEE HOLY SPIRIT, BAPTISM OF, and certain aspects of it under the foregoing heading, and under SEE SPIRITUAL GIFTS. We here give (in addition to particulars elsewhere treated) a more detailed view of the linguistic phenomenon involved.
I. Philological Interpretations of the Term. — Γλῶττα, or γλῶσσα, the word employed throughout the, New Test. for the gift now under consideration, is used in three senses, SEE TONGUE, each of which might be the starting-point for the application of the word to the gift of tongues, and each accordingly has found those who have maintained that it is so.
1. It primarily and literally signifies the bodily organ of speech. Eichhorn and Bardili (cited by Bleek, Stud. u. Krit. 1829, p. 8 sq.), and to some extent Bunsen (Hyppolytus, 1, 9), starting from this signification, see in the so-called gift an inarticulate utterance, the cry as of a brute creature, in which the tongue moves while the lips refuse their office in making the sounds definite and distinct.
This interpretation, it is believed, does not meet the condition of answering any of the facts of the New Test., and errs in ignoring the more prominent meaning of the word in later Greek.
2. The term γλῶσσα may stand for the use of foreign words, imported and half naturalized in Greek (Aristotle, Rhet. 3, 2, 14), a meaning which the words "gloss" and "glossary" preserve for us. Bleek himself (ut sup. p. 33) adopts this second meaning, and gives an interesting collection of passages to prove that it was, in the time of the New Test., the received sense. He infers from this that to speak in tongues was to use unusual, poetic language; that the speakers were in a high-wrought excitement which showed itself in mystic, figurative terms.: In this view he had been preceded by Ernesti (Opusc. Theolog.; see Morning Watch, 4:101) and Herdelr (Die Gabe der Spirache, p. 47, 70), the latter of whom extends the meaning to special mystical interpretations-of the Old Test.
This interpretation, however, though true in some of its conclusions, and able, so far as they are concerned, to support itself by the authority of Augustine (comp. De Genesis ad lit. 12:8, "Linguam esse cum quis loquatur obscuras et mysticas significationes") appears faulty, as failing (1) to recognize the fact that the sense of the word in the New Test. was more likely to be determined by that which it bore in the Sept. than by its meaning in Greek historians or rhetoricians and (2) to meet the phenomena of Acts 2.
3. The word γλῶσσα, in Hellenistic Greek, after the pattern of the corresponding Hebrew word (לָשׁוֹן), stands for "speech" or "language" (Ge 10:5; Da 1:4, etc.). The received traditional view starts from this meaning, and sees in the gift of tongues a distinctly linguistic power. It commends itself, as in this respect starting at least from the right point, and likely to lead us to the truth (comp. Olshausen, Stud. u. Krit. 1829, p. 538). Variations as well as objections and difficulties arising from this interpretation will be considered below.
II. History and Explanation of the Biblical Occurrences. —The principal passages from which we have to draw our conclusion as to the nature and purpose of the gift in question are (1) Mr 16:17; (2) Ac 2:1-13; Ac 10:46; Ac 19:6; (3) 1Co 12:14. Besides these, we may derive some light from later allusions incidentally made to these phenomena. We here consider them in their chronological order, with such inferences as are suggested by them.
1. The promise of a new power coming from the Divine Spirit, giving not only comfort and insight into truth, but fresh powers of utterance of some kind, appears once and again in our Lord's teaching. The disciples are to take no thought what they shall speak, for the Spirit of their Father shall speak in them (Mt 10:19-20; Mr 13:11). The lips of Galilaean peasants are to speak freely and boldly before kings. The only condition is that they are "not to premeditate" to yield themselves altogether to the power that works on them. Thus they shall have given to them "a mouth and wisdom" which no adversary shall be able "to gainsay or resist." In Mr 16:17 we have a more definite term employed: "They shall speak with new tongues" (καιναῖς γλώσσαις). It can hardly be questioned that the obvious meaning of the promise, is that the disciples should speak in new languages which they had not learned as other men learn them. The promise itself, however, determines little definite as to the nature of the gift or the purpose for which it was to be employed. It was to be a "sign." It was not to belong to a chosen few only — to apostles and evangelists. It was to "follow them that believed" to be among the fruits of the living intense faith which raised men above the common level of their lives, and brought them within the kingdom of God.
2. The wonder of the day of Pentecost (Ac 2:1-13) is, in its broad features, familiar enough to us. The days since the ascension had been spent as in a ceaseless ecstasy of worship (Lu 24:53). The one hundred and twenty disciples were gathered together, waiting with eager expectation for the coming of power from on high of the Spirit that was to give them new gifts of utterance. The day of Pentecost had come, which they, like all other Israelites, looked upon as the witness of the revelation of the Divine Will given on Sinai. Suddenly there swept over them "the sound as of a rushing mighty wind," such as Ezekiel had heard in the visions of God by Chebar (Eze 1:24; Eze 43:2), at all times the recognized symbol of a spiritual creative power (comp. 37:1-14; Ge 1:2; 1Ki 19:11; 2Ch 5:14; Ps 104:3-4). With this there was another sign associated even more closely with their thoughts of the day of Pentecost. There appeared unto them "tongues like as of fire." Of old the brightness had been seen gleaming through the "thick cloud" (Ex 19:18) or "enfolding" the divine glory (Eze 1:4). Now the tongues were distributed (διαμεριζομεναι), lighting upon each of them. The outward symbol was accompanied by an inward change. They were "filled with the Holy Spirit," as the Baptist and their Lord had been (Lu 1:15; Lu 4:1), though they themselves had as yet no experience of a like kind. "They began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." The narrative that follows leaves hardly any room for doubt that the writer meant to convey the, impression that the disciples were heard to speak in languages of which they had no colloquial knowledge previously. The direct statement, "They heard them speaking, each man in his own dialect," the long list of nations, the words put into the lips of the hearers these can scarcely reconciled with the theories of Bleek, Herder, and Bunsen without a willful distortion of the evidence.
Having thus recited the facts in this case, we inquire, What view are we to take of a phenomenon so marvelous and exceptional? Let us first consider what views men have actually taken.
(1.) The prevalent belief of the Church has been that in the Pentecostal gift the disciples received a supernatural knowledge of all such languages, as they needed for their work as evangelists. The knowledge was permanent, and could be used at their own will, as if it had been acquired in the common order of things. With this they went forth to preach to the nations. Differences of opinion are found as to special points. Augustine thought that each disciple spoke in all languages (De Verb. Apost. 175, 3); Chrysostom that each had. a special language assigned to, him, and that this was the indication of the country which he was called to evangelize (Hom. in Act. 2). Some thought that the number of languages spoken was seventy or seventy-five, after, the number of the sons: of Noah (Genesis 10) or the sons of Jacob (ch. 46), or one hundred and twenty, after that of the disciples (comp. Baronius, Annul. 1, 97). Most were, agreed in seeing in the Pentecostal gift the antithesis to the confusion of tongues at Babel, the witness of a restored unity. "Poena linguarum dispersit homines, donunm linguarum dispersos in unum populum collegit" (Grotius, ad loc.).
We notice incidentally that parallels have been sought ill Israelitihhishtory. For example, there had been, it was said, tongues of fire on the original Pentecost (Schneckenburger, Beitrage, p. 8, referring to Buxtorf, De Synag., and Philo, De Decal.). The later rabbius were not without their legends of a like "baptism of fire." Nicodemus ben-Gorion and Jochanan benZachai, men of great holiness and wisdom, went into an upper chamber to expound the law, and the house began to be full of fire (Lightfoot, flari. 3, 14; Schöttgen, Hor. Heb. in Act. 2). Again, with regard to the more important phenomenon, it deserves notice that there are analogies in Jewish belief. Every word that went forth from the mouth of God on Sinai was said to have been divided into the seventy languages of the sons of men (Wettstein, On Acts 2); and the bath-kol, the echo of the voice of God, was heard by every man in his own tongue (Schneckenburger, Beitrige). So, as regards the power of speaking, there was a tradition that the great rabbins of the Sanhedrim could speak all the seventy languages of the world.
The following are some of the direct arguments urged in favor of a literal view of the Pentecostal endowment:
"(a) The power in question was virtually promised to the apostles by the very duty assigned them. They were enjoined to 'go and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. They were to be witnesses for Christ in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and to the uttermost parts of the earth.' But how could they instruct remote tribes whose phraseology was a Babel to them, unless they were divinely qualified for the work?
(b) This power was in keeping with the occasion., The old economy was characteristically ritualistic. It addressed the eye, and made an impression by its superb ceremonial. The Christian dispensation was to be simple, and its strength would lie in the preaching of the word. To speak with other tongues was indeed a new thing on the earth, but so was the exigency, which rendered it appropriate. Judaism was local made purposely restrictive to preclude amalgamation with the heathen. Now there was to be catholicity, and what could better symbolize it in Christian agency than a competence to instruct the whole world, to be mouth and wisdom to all its inhabitants?
(c) We never read of foreign tongues creating any impediment to the spread of the Gospel, or requiring laborious application for the acquisition of them. If we look into modern missionary reports, we meet with a great deal about learning the languages of natives. Why is there nothing of the kind in the New Test., unless because they were acquired supernaturally?
(d) The account in Acts 2 is explicit, and allows of no uncertainty or evasion. The speakers were Galileans, capable at most of expressing themselves in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew; and a multitude of foreigners from a great many regions heard themselves accosted as in the land of their birth. If the apostles spoke just as they might have been expected to speak, and with no more compass of expression than suited their-condition and history, why should any astonishment have been produced by their attainments? But the multitudes were confounded, and they were all amazed and marveled, not merely at the doctrines propounded, but, specifically, because every man heard them speak in his own language. How came Galileans, they asked, to be such linguists? to be so familiar with languages alien to their annals? There is here an obviousness of meaning which no subtlety or sophistry can ever explain away." Widely diffused as this view of the Pentecostal gift has been, it has been thought-by some, in some points at least, that it goes beyond the data with which the New Test. supplies us. Each instance of the gift recorded in the Acts connects it, not so much with the work of teaching as with that of praise and adoration; not with the normal order of men's lives, but with exceptional epochs in them. (In the first instance, however, the gift certainly was largely instrumental in the conversion of hearers; and even among the Corinthians [1Co 14:16-17] the utterance, when properly interpreted, was a means of general edification.) It came and went as the Spirit gave men the power of utterance in this respect analogous to the other gift of prophecy with which it was so often associated (Ac 2:16-17; Ac 19:6) and was not possessed by them as a thing to be used this way or that, according as they chose. (It appears, however, that even the prophetic afflatus was amenable to the subject's will [1Co 14:32], and the gift in question was to be voluntarily exercised or forborne [ ver. 28-30 ].) The speech of Peter which follows, like most other speeches addressed to a Jerusalem audience, was spoken apparently in Aramraic. (But this does not prove that Peter always spoke in that language.) When Paul, who "spake with tongues more than all," was at Lystra, there is no 'mention made of his using the language of Lycaonia. It is implied, however, that either he or Luke understood it (Ac 14:11). It is rarely implied in the discussion of spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12-14 that the gift was of this nature, or given for this purpose. The objection that if it had been, the apostle would surely have told those who possessed it to go and preach to the outlying nations of the heathen world, instead of disturbing the Church by what, on this hypothesis, would have been a needless and offensive ostentation (comp. Stanley, Corinthians [2nd ed.], p. 261), may readily be met by the consideration that Corinth, as a seaport, was almost as much a polyglot community as Jerusalem. Without laying much stress on the tradition that Peter was followed in his work by Mark as an interpreter (ἑρμηνευτής) (Papias, in Eusebius, II. E. 3, 30), that even Paul was accompanied by Titus in the same character "Quia non potuit divinorum sensuum majestatem digno Graeci eloquii sermone explicare" (Jerome, quoted by Estius on 2 Corinthians 2) they must at least be received as testimonies that the age which was nearest to the phenomena did not take the same view of them as those have done who lived at a greater distance. The testimony of Irenaeus (Adv. alcer. 6:6), sometimes urged in support of the common view, in reality decides nothing, and, so far as it goes, tends against it (infra). It is also affirmed that within the limits assigned by the providence of God to the working of the apostolic Church such a gift was unnecessary. Aramaic, Greek, Latin, the three languages of the inscription on the cross, were media of intercourse throughout the empire. Greek alone sufficed, as the New Test. shows us, for the churches of the West, for Macedonia and Achaia, for Pontus, Asia, Phrygia. The conquests of Alexander and of Rome had made men diglottic to an extent, which has no parallel in history. But it is one thing to speak in a language imperfectly acquired by speaker and hearer, yet foreign to them both, and a very different thing and one, we may add, highly important for the personal influence requisite to Gospel conviction to be able to converse fluently in the native tongue of the congregation. The objection that we have no evidence of any actual use of the voluntary power of foreign languages by the apostles in propagating the Gospel is merely negative, and cannot stand in the light of the facts recorded in the case under consideration. Equally inconclusive is the objection against the psychological character of the miracle of a sudden importation of a language not learned; for it lies with quite as much force against the communication of the knowledge of a future event, and indeed it would forbid not only all prophecy, but all inspiration itself. It is a suspicious circumstance connected with all this class of objections that their essence seems to lie in a crypto-rationalistic spirit, which really opposes the miraculous altogether, and seeks on every occasion to explain Scripture prodigies by natural causes. SEE MIRACLE.
(2.) Accordingly, some interpreters have advanced another solution of the difficulty by changing the character of the miracle. It lay not in any new power bestowed on the speakers, but in the impression produced on the hearers. Words which the Galilean disciples uttered in their own tongue were heard by those who listened as in their native speech. This view we find adopted by Gregory of Nyssa (De Spir. Sanct.), discussed, but not accepted, by Gregory of Nazianzum (Orat. c. 44), and reproduced by Erasmus (ad loc.). A modification of the same theory is presented by Schneckenburger (Beitrage), and in part adopted by Olshausen (loc. cit.) and Neander ( Pflanz. u. Leit. 1, 15). The phenomena of somnambulism, of the so-called mesmeric state, are referred to as analogous. The speaker was en rapport with his hearers; the latter shared the thoughts of the former, and so heard them, or seemed to hear them, in their own tongues. There are weighty reasons against this hypothesis. (a) It is at variance with the distinct statement of Ac 2:4, They began to speak with other tongues."
(b) It at once multiplies the miracle and degrades its character. Not the one hundred and twenty-disciples, but the whole multitude of many thousands, are in this case the subjects of it. The gift no longer connects itself with the work of the Divine Spirit, following on intense faith and earnest prayer, but is a mere physical prodigy wrought upon men who are altogether wanting in the conditions of capacity for such a supernatural power (Mr 16:17).
(c) It involves an element of falsehood. The miracle, on this view, was wrought to make men believe what was not actually the fact.
(d) It is altogether inapplicable to the phenomena of Corinthians 14.
(3.) Critics of a negative school have, as might be expected, adopted the easier course of rejecting the narrative either altogether or in part. The statements do not come from an eye-witness, and may be an exaggerated report of what actually took place a legend with or without a historical foundation. Those who recognize such a groundwork see in "the rushing mighty wind," the hurricane of a thunder-storm, the fresh breeze of morning; in the "tongues like as of fire," the flashings of the electric fluid; in the "speaking with tongues," the loud screams of men, not all Galileans, but coming from many lands, overpowered by strong excitement, speaking in mystical, figurative, abrupt exclamations. They see in this "the cry of the new-born Christendom" (Büsen, Hippolytus, 2, 12; Ewald, Gesch. Is. 6:110; Bleek, loc. cit.; Herder, loc. cit.). From the position occupied by these writers such a view was perhaps natural enough. It is out of place here to discuss in detail a theory, which postulates the incredibility of any fact beyond the phenomenal laws of nature and the falsehood of Luke as a narrator.
(4.) What, then, we finally inquire under the case in question, are the facts actually brought before us? What inferences may be legitimately drawn from them?
(a) The utterance of words by the disciples in other languages than their own Galilean Aramaic is, as has been said, distinctly asserted.
(b) The words spoken appear to have been primarily determined, not by the will of the speakers, but by the Spirit, which "gave them utterance." The outward tongue of flame was the symbol of the "burning fire" within, which, as in the case of the older prophets could not without internal violence be repressed (Jer 20:9).
(c) The word used, ἀποφθέγγεσθαι, not merely λαλεῖν, has in the Sept. a special, though not an exclusive association with the oracular speech of true or false prophets, and appears to imply some peculiar and probably impassioned style (comp. 1Ch 25:1; Eze 13:9; Trommii Concordant. s.v.; Grotius and Wettstein, ad loc.; Andrews, Whitsunday Sermons, vol. 1).
(d) The "tongues" were used as an instrument, not simply of teaching, but also of praise. At first, indeed, there were none present to be taught. The disciples were by themselves, all sharing equally in the Spirit's gifts. When they were heard by others, it was chiefly as proclaiming the praise, the mighty and great works of God (μεγαλεῖα). What they uttered was not so much a warning or reproof or exhortation as a doxology (Stanley, loc. cit.; Baumgarten, Apostelgesch. § 3). The assumption, however, appears unwarranted that when the work of teaching began it was in the language of the Jews, and that the utterance of tongues then ceased.
(e) Those who spoke them seemed to others to be under the influence of some strong excitement, "full of new wine." They were not as other men, or as they themselves had been before. Some recognized, indeed, that they were in a higher state, but it was one, which, in some of its outward features, had a counterfeit likeness in the lower. When Paul uses in Eph 5:18-19 (πληροῦσθε πνεύματος) the all but self-same word which Luke uses here to describe the state of the disciples (ἑπλήσθησαν πνεύματος ἁγίου) it is to contrast it with "being drunk with wine," to associate it with "psalms and hymns, and spiritual songs."
(f) Questions as to the mode of operation of a power above the common laws of bodily or mental life lead us to a region where our words should be "wary and few." There is a risk of seeming to reduce to the known order of nature that which is by confession above and beyond it. In this and in other cases, however, it may be possible, without irreverence or doubt following the guidance which Scripture itself gives us to trace in what way the new power did its work, and brought about such wonderful results. It must be remembered, then, that in all likelihood similar words to those which they then uttered had been heard by the disciples before. At every feast which they had ever attended from their youth up, they must have been brought into contact with a crowd as varied as that which was present on the day of Pentecost, the pilgrims of each nation uttering their praises and doxologies. The difference was that, before, the Galilean peasants had stood in that crowd neither heeding nor understanding nor remembering what they heard, still less able to reproduce it; now, they had the power of speaking it clearly and freely.
(g) The gift of tongues, the ecstatic burst of praise, is definitely asserted to be a fulfillment of the prediction of Joe 2:28. The twice-repeated burden of that prediction is, "I will pour out my Spirit," and the effect on those who receive it is that "they shall prophesy." We may see, therefore, in this special gift that which is analogous to one element at least of the προφητεία of the Old Test.; but the element of teaching is, as we have seen, not prominent. In 1 Corinthians 14 the gift of tongues and προφητεία (in this the New-Test. sense of the word) are placed in direct contrast. We are led, therefore, to look for that which more peculiarly answers to the gift of tongues in the other element of prophecy which is included in the Old-Test. use of the word; and this is found in the ecstatic praise, the burst of song, which appears under that name in the two histories of Saul (1Sa 10:5-13; 1Sa 19:20-24), and in the services of the Temple (1Ch 25:3).
(h) The other instances in the Acts offer essentially the same phenomena. By implication in Ac 14:15-19, by express statement in Ac 10:47; Ac 11:15,17; Ac 19:6, it belongs to special critical epochs, at which faith is at its highest, and the imposition of the apostles hands brought men into the same state, imparted to them the same gift, as they had themselves experienced. In this case, too, the exercise of the gift is at once connected with, and distinguished from, "prophecy" in its New Test. sense.
3. The first epistle to the Corinthians supplies fuller data. The spiritual gifts are classified and compared, arranged, apparently, according to their worth, placed under regulation. This fact is in itself significant. Though recognized as coming from the one Divine Spirit, they are not therefore exempted from the control of man's reason and conscience. The Spirit acts through the calm judgment of the apostle or the Church, not less, but more, authoritatively than in the most rapturous and wonderful utterances. The facts which may be gathered in this case are briefly these:
(1.) The phenomena of the gift of tongues were not confined to one Church or section of a Church. If we find them at Jerusalem, Ephesus, Corinth, by implication at Thessalonica also (1Th 5:19),.we may well believe that they were frequently recurring wherever the spirits of men were passing through the same stages of experience.
(2.) The comparison of gifts in both the lists given by Paul (1Co 12:8-10,28-30) places that of tongues, and the interpretation of tongues, lowest in the scale. They are not among the greater gifts, which men are to "covet earnestly" (ver. 31; 14:5). As signs of a life quickened into expression where before it had been dead and dumb, the apostle could wish that "they all spake with tongues" (ibid.), could rejoice that, he himself "spake with tongues more than they all" (ver. 18). It was good to have known the working of a power raising them above the common level of their consciousness. They belonged, however, to the childhood of the Christian life, not to its maturity (ver. 20). They brought with them the risk of disturbance (ver. 23). The only safe rule for the Church was not to "forbid them" (ver. 39) not to "quench them" (Thessalonians 5:19), lest in so doing the spiritual life of which this was the first utterance should be crushed and extinguished too; but not in any way to covet or excite them.
(3.) The main characteristic of the "tongue" (now used, as it were, technically, without the epithet "new" or "other") is that it is unintelligible unless "interpreted" (διερμηνεύομαι to translate in course). The man "speaks mysteries," prays, blesses, gives thanks, in the tongue (ἐν πνεύματι as equivalent to ἐν γλώσσῃ, 1Co 14:15-16), but no one understands him (ἀκούει). He can hardly be said indeed, to understand himself. The πνεῦμα in him is acting without the co-operation of the νοῦς (ver. 14). He speaks not to men, but to himself and to God (comp. Chrysost. Hom. 35, in 1 Col.). In spite of this, however the gift might, and did, contribute to the building-up of a man's own life (1Co 14:4). This might be the only way in which some natures could be roused out of the apathy of a sensual life or the dullness of a formal ritual. The ecstasy of adoration which seemed to men madness might be a refreshment unspeakable to one who was weary with the subtle questionings of the intellect, to whom all familiar and intelligible words were fraught with recollections of controversial bitterness or the wanderings of doubt (comp. a passage of wonderful power as to this use of the gift by Irving Morning Watch, 5, 78).
(4.) The peculiar nature of the gift leads the apostle into what appears at first a contradiction. "Tongues are for a sign," not to believers, but to those who do not believe; yet the effect on unbelievers is not that of attracting, but repelling. A meeting in which the gift of tongues was exercised without restraint would seem to a heathen visitor, or even to the plain common-sense Christian (the ἰδιώτης, the man. without a χάρισμα), to be an assembly of madmen. The history of the day of Pentecost may help us to explain the paradox. The tongues are a sign. They witness that the daily experience of men is not the limit of their spiritual powers. They disturb, startle, awaken, are given εἰς τὸ ἐκπλήττεσθαι (Chrysost. Hom. 36, in 1 Cor.), but they are not, and cannot be, the grounds of conviction and belief (so Const. Apost. 8). They involve of necessity a disturbance of the equilibrium between the understanding and the feelings. Therefore it is that, for those who believe already, prophecy is the greater gift. Five clear words spoken from the mind of one man to the mind and conscience of another are better than ten thousand of these more startling and wonderful phenomena.
(5.) There remains the question whether these also were "tongues" in the sense of being languages, of which the speakers had little or no previous knowledge, or whether we are to admit here, though not in Acts 2, the theories which see in them only unusual forms of speech (Bleek), or inarticulate cries (Bunsen), or all but inaudible whisperings (Wiieseler, in, Olshausen, ad loc.). The question is not one for a dogmatic assertion but it is believed that there is a preponderance of evidence leading us to look on the phenomena of Pentecost as representative. It must have been from them that the word tongue derived its new and special meaning. The companion of Paul and Pami; himself were likely to use the same word in the same sense. In the absence of a distinct notice to the contrary, it is probable that the gift would manifest itself in the same form at Corinth as at Jerusalem. The "divers kind of tongues" (1Co 12:28), the "tongues of men" (1Co 13:1), point to differences of some kind, and it is at least easier to conceive of these as differences of language than as belonging to utterances all equally wild and inarticulate. The position maintained by Lightfoot (Harm. of Gosp. on Acts 2), that the gift of tongues consisted in the power of speaking and understanding the true Hebrew of the Old Test., may appear somewhat extravagant, but there seems ground for believing that Hebrew and Aramaic words had over the minds of Greek converts at Corinth a power which they failed to exercise when translated, and that there the utterances of the tongues were probably, in whole or in part, in that language. Thus the "Maranatha" of 1Co 16:22, compared with 12:3, leads to the inference that the word had been spoken under a real or counterfeit inspiration, "It was the Spirit that led men to cry Abba as their recognition of the fatherhood of God (Ro 8:15; Ga 4:6). If we are to attach any definite meaning to the tongues of angels" in 1Co 13:1, it must be by connecting it with the words surpassing human utterance which Paul heard as in Paradise (2Co 12:4), and these, again, with the great Hallelujah hymns of which we read in the Apocalypse (Re 19:1; Re 6; Stanley, loc. cit.; Ewald, Gesch. Isr. 6:117). The retention of other words like Hosanna and Sabaoth in the worship of the Church, of the Greek formula of the Kyrie Eleison in that of the nations of the West, is an. exemplification of the same feeling operating in other ways after the special power had ceased.
(6.) Here also as in Acts 2, we have to think of some peculiar style of enunciation as frequently characterizing the exercise of the "tongues." The analogies which suggest themselves to Paul's mind are those of the pipe, the harp the trumpet (1 Corinthians 14:7, 8). In the case of one "singing in the spirit" (ver. 15), but not with the understanding also, the strain of ecstatic melody must have been all that the listeners could perceive. To "sing and make melody" is especially characteristic of those who are filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:19). Other forms of utterance less distinctly musical, yet not less mighty to stir the minds of men, we may trace in the "cry" (Ro 8:15; Ga 4:6) and the "ineffable groanings" (Ro 8:26), which are distinctly ascribed to the work of the Divine Spirit. To those who know the wonderful power of man's voice, as the organ of his spirit, the strange, unearthly charm which belongs to some of its less normal states, the influence even of individual words thus uttered, especially of words belonging to a language which is not that of our common life (comp. Hilar. Diac. Comm. in 1 Corinthians 14), it will not seem strange that, even in the absence of a distinct intellectual consciousness, the gift should take its place among the means by which a man "built up" his own life, and might contribute, if one were present: to expound his utterances, to "edify" others also. Neander (Pflanz. u. Leit. 1, 15) refers to the 'effect produced by the preaching of St. Bernard upon hearers who did not understand one word of the Latin in which he preached (Opp. 2, 119, ed. Mabillon) as an instance of this.' Like phenomena are related of St. Anthony of Padua and St. Vincent Ferrer (Acta Sanctorum, June 24 and April 5), of which this is probably the explanation. (Comp. also Wolff, Curie Philolog. in Nov. Test., Acts 2.)
(7.) Connected with the "tongues," there was, as the words just used remind us, the corresponding power of interpretation. "It might belong to any listener (1Co 14:27). It might belong' to the speaker himself when he returned to the ordinary level of conscious thought (ver. 13). Its function, according to the view that has been 'here taken, must have been twofold. The interpreter had first to catch the foreign words, Aramaic or others, which had mingled, more or less largely; with what was uttered, and then to find a meaning and an order in what seemed at 'first to be without either; to follow the loftiest fights and most intricate windings of the enraptured spirit; to trace the subtle associations Which linked together words and thoughts that seemed at first to have no point of contact. Under the action of one with this insight, the wild utterances of the "tongues" might become a treasure house of deep truths. Sometimes, it would appear, not even this was possible. The power might be simply that of sound. As the pipe or harp, played boldly, the hand struck at random over the strings, but with no διαστολή, no musical interval, wanted the condition of distinguishable melody, so the "tongues," in their extremest form, passed beyond the limits of interpretation. There might be a strange awfulness, of a strange sweetness as of "the tongues of angels;" but what" it meant was known only to God (ver. 7 11).
(8.) It is probable that, at this later period, and in the Corinthian Church (which appears, from other indications to have been a decidedly sensuous one), the gift in question had somewhat degenerated from its Pentecostal purity into a demonstrative form, in which the human fancy and nervous susceptibility had given a looser rein to the external manifestations of what was essentially and truly a divine impulse. The history of modern religious excitements affords abundant illustration of this tendency.
4. As to other indications in early times we may remark:
(I.) Traces of the gift are found, as has been said, in the epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians. From the Pastoral Epistles, from those of Peter and John, they are altogether absent, and this is in itself significant. The life of the apostle and of the Church has passed into a calmer, more normal state. Wide truths, abiding graces, these, are what he himself lives in and exhorts others to rest on, rather that exceptional χαρίσματα, however marvelous, the "tongues" are already "ceasing" (1Co 13:8), as a thing belonging to the past. Love, which even when "tongues" were mightiest, he had seen to be above all gifts, has became more and more, all in all, to him.
(2.) It is probable, however, that the disappearance of the "tongues" was gradual. As it would have been impossible to draw the precise line' of demarcation when the προφητεία of the apostolic age passed into the διδασκαλία that remained permanently in the Church, so there must have been a time when "tongues" were still heard, though less frequently, and with less striking results. The testimony of Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. 5, 6) that there were brethren in his time "who had prophetic gifts, and spoke through the Spirit in all kinds of tongues," though it does not prove, what it has sometimes been alleged to prove, the permanence of the gift in the individual, or its use in the work of evangelizing (Wordsworth, On Acts 2), must be admitted as evidence of the existence of phenomena like those which we have met with in the Church of Corinth. For the most part, however, the part which they had filled in the worship of the Church was supplied by the "hymns and spiritual songs" of the succeeding age. In the earliest of these, distinct in character from either the Hebrew psalms or the later hymns of the Church, marked by a strange mixture of mystic names and half coherent thoughts (such, e.g., as the hymn with which Clement of Alexandria ends his Παιδαγωγός, and the earliest Sibylline verses), some have seen the influence of the ecstatic utterances in which the strong feelings of adoration had originally shown themselves (Nitzsch, Christl. Lehre, 2, 268).
After this, within the Church we lose nearly all traces of them. 'The mention of them by Eusebius (Comm. in Psalm 46) is vague and uncertain. The tone in which Chrysostom speaks of them (Comm. in 1 Corinthians 14) is that of one who feels the whole subject to be obscure, because there are no phenomena within his own experience at all answering to it. The whole tendency of the Church was to maintain reverence and order, and to repress all approaches to the ecstatic state. Those who yielded to it took refuge, as in the case of Tertullian (infra) insects outside the Church. Symptoms of what was then looked upon as an evil showed themselves in the 4th century at Constantinople wild, inarticulate cries, words passionate but of little meaning, almost convulsive gestures and were met by Chrysostom with the sternest possible reproof (Hom. in Isaiah 6:2 [ed. Migne, 6:100]).
It thus appears that the miraculous gifts of the first days bestowed upon the Church for a definite purpose were gradually but quickly withdrawn from men when the apostles and those who had learned Christ from their lips had fallen asleep. Among these supernatural powers we can well believe that the earliest withdrawn were those new tongues first head in their strange sweetness on that Pentecostal "morning, needing then no interpreter; those tongues which during the birth throes of Christianity gave utterance to the rapturous joy and thankfulness of the first believers. They were a power, however, which, if misused might lead men as history has subsequently shown into confusion, feverish dreams, and morbid imaginings, a condition of thought which would utterly unfit men and women for the stern and earnest duties of their several callings in a word, a life unreal and unhealthy. Therefore that chapter of sacred history which tells' of these communings of men with the unseen, that beautified with unearthly glory the lives of the brave witnesses who first gave up all for Christ, was closed up forever when the "tongues" had done their work (see De Wette, Apostelgesch. p. 23, 26).
III. Ancient and Modern Quasi Parallels. A wider question of deep interest presents itself. Can we find in the religious history of mankind any facts analogous to the manifestation of the "tongues?" Recognizing, as we do, the great gap which separates the work of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost from all others, both in its origin and its fruits, there is, it is believed, no reason for rejecting the thought that there might be like phenomena standing to it in the relation of foreshadowings, approximations, counterfeits. Other χαρίσματα of the Spirit, wisdom, prophecy helps, governments, had, or have, analogies, in special states of men's spiritual life, at other times and under other conditions, and so may these. The three characteristic phenomena are, especially in its Corinthian phase, as has been seen (a) an ecstatic state of partial or entire unconsciousness, the human will being, as it were, swayed by a power above itself; (b) the utterance of words in tones startling and impressive, but often conveying no distinct meaning; (c) the use of languages which the speaker was of himself unable to converse in.
1. The history of the Old, Test. presents us with some instances in which the gift of prophecy has accompaniments of this nature. The word includes something more than the utterance, of a distinct message of God. Saul and his messengers come under the power of the Spirit, and he lies on the ground all night, stripped of his kingly armor, and joining in the wild chant of the company of prophets, or pouring out his own utterances to the sound of their music (1Sa 19:24; comp. Stanley, loc. cit.).
2. We cannot exclude the false prophets and diviners of Israel from the range of our inquiry. As they, in their work, dress, pretensions, were counterfeits of those who truly bore the name, so we may venture to trace in other things that which resembled, more or, less closely, what had accompanied the exercise of the divine gift. And here we have distinct records of strange, mysterious intonations. The ventriloquist wizards (οἱ ἐγγαστρίμυθοι, ο‰ ἐκ τῆς κοιλίας φωνοῦσιν) "peep and mutter" (Isa 8:19). The "voice of one who has a familiar spirit" comes low out of the ground (Isa 29:4. The false prophets simulate with their tongues (Sept. ἐκβάλλοντας προφητείας γλώσσης) the low voice with which the true prophets announced that the Lord had spoken (Jer 23:31; comp. Gesenius, Thesaur s.v. נָא).
3. The quotation by Paul (1Co 14:21) from Isa 28:11 ("With men of other tongues [ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις] and other lips will I speak unto this people") has a significance of which we ought not to lose sight. The common interpretation sees in that passage only a declaration that, those who had refused to listen to the prophets should be taught a sharp lesson by the lips of alien conquerors. Ewald (Prophet. ad loc.), dissatisfied with this, sees in the new teaching the voice of thunder striking terror into men's minds. Paul, with the phenomena of the "tongues" present to his mind, saw in them the fulfillment of the prophet's words.
Those who turned aside from the true prophetic message should be left to the darker, "stammering," more mysterious utterances, which were in the older what the "tongues" were in the later Ecclesia. A remarkable parallel to the text thus interpreted is found in Ho 9:7. There also the people are threatened with the withdrawal of the true prophetic insight, and in its stead there is to be the wild delirium, the ecstatic madness of the counterfeit (comp. especially the Sept., ὁ προφήτης ὁ παρεστηκώς, ἄνθρωπος ὁ πνευματοφόρος).
4. The history of heathen oracles presents, it need hardly be said, examples of the orgiastic state, the condition of the μάντις as distinct from the προφήτης, in which the wisest. of Greek thinkers recognized the lower type of inspiration (Plato, Timceus, 72 b; Bleek, loc. cit.). The Pythoness and the Sibyl are as if possessed by a power which they cannot resist. They labor under the afflatus of the god. The wild, unearthly sounds ("nee mortale sonans"), often hardly coherent, burst from their lips. It remained for interpreters to collect the scattered utterances, and to give them shape and meaning (Virgil, AEn. 6:45, 98 sq.).
5. More distinct parallels are found in the accounts of the wilder, more excited sects which have, from time to time, appeared in the history of Christendom. Tertullian (De Ania. c. 9), as a Montanist, claims the "revelationum charismata" as given to a sister of that sect. They came to her "inter dominica solemnia;" she was, "per ecstasin, in spiritu," conversing with angels, and with the Lord himself, seeing and hearing mysteries ("sacramenta"), reading the hearts of men, prescribing remedies for those who needed them. The movement of the mendicant orders in the 13th century, the prophesyings of the 16th in England, the early history of the disciples of George Fox, that of the Jansenists in France, the revivals under Wesley and Whitefield, those of a later date in Sweden, America, and Ireland, have, in like manner, been fruitful in ecstatic phenomena more. or less closely resembling those which we are now considering.
6. The history of the French prophets at the commencement of the 18th century presents some facts of special interest. The terrible sufferings caused by the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes were pressing with intolerable severity on the Huguenots of the Cevennes. The persecuted flocks met together, with every feeling of faith and hope strung to its highest pitch. The accustomed order of worship was broken, and laboring men, children, and female servants spoke with rapturous eloquence as the messengers of God.... Beginning in 1686, then crushed for a time bursting forth with fresh violence in. 1700, it soon became a matter of almost European celebrity. Refugees arrived in London in 1706 claiming the character of prophets (Lacy, Cry from the Desert; Peyrat, Pastors: in the Wilderness). An, Englishman, John Lacy, became first a convert and then a leader. The convulsive ecstatic utterances of the sect drew down the ridicule of Shaftesbury (On Enthusiasm). Calamy thought it necessary to enter the lists against their pretensions (Caveat against the New Prophets). They gained a distinguished proselyte in Sir R. Bulkley, a pupil of Bishop Fell's, with no inconsiderable learning, who occupied in their proceedings a position which reminds us of that of Henry Drummond among the followers of Irving (Bulkley, Defence of the Prophets), here, also, there was a strong contagious excitement. Nicholson, the Baxter of the sect, published a confession that he had found himself unable to resist it (Falsehood of the New Prophets), though he afterwards came to kook upon his companions as "enthusiastic impostors," What is specially noticeable is that the gift of tongues was claimed by them. Sir R. Bulkley declares that he had heard Lacy repeat long sentences in Latin, and another speak Hebrew, though, when not in the Spirit, they were quite incapable of it (Narrative, p. 92). The characteristic thought of all the revelations was that they were the true children of God. Almost every oracle began with "My child!" as its characteristic word (Peyrat, 1, 235-313). It is remarkable that a strange revivalist movement was spreading nearly at the same time through Silesia, the chief feature of which was that boys and girls of tender age were almost the only subjects of it, and that they too spoke and prayed with a wonderful power (Lacy, Relation, etc., p. 31; Bulkley, Narrative, p. 46).
7. The so called Unknown Tongues, which manifested themselves first in the west of Scotland, and afterwards in the Caledonian Church: in Regent Square, present a more striking phenomenon, and the data for judging of its nature are more copious. Here, more than in most other cases, there were the conditions of long, eager expectation fixed brooding over one central thought, the mind strained to a preternatural tension. Suddenly, now from one, now from another, chiefly from women, devout but illiterate, mysterious sounds were heard. Voices which at other times were harsh and unpleasing became, when "singing in the Spirit," perfectly harmonious (Cardale, Narrative, in Morning Watch, 2, 871, 872). See the independent testimony of archdeacon Stopford. He had listened to the "unknown tongue," and had found it "a sound such as I never heard before, unearthly and unaccountable." He recognized precisely the same sounds in the Irish revivals of 1859 (Work and Counterwork, p. 11). Those who spoke, men of known devotion and acuteness, bore witness to their inability to control themselves (Baxter, Narrative, p. 5, 9, 12), to their being led, they knew not how, to speak in a "triumphant chant" (ibid. p. 46, 81). The man over whom they exercised so strange a power has left on record his testimony, that to him they seemed to embody a more than earthly music, leading to the belief that the "tongues" of the apostolic age had been as the archetypal melody of which all the Church's chants and hymns were but faint, poor echoes (Oliphant, Life of Irving, 2, 208). To those who were without, on the other hind, they seemed but an unintelligible gibberish, the yells and groans of madmen (newspapers of 1831; passim): Sometimes it was asserted that fragments of known languages Spanish, Italian, Greek, Hebrew were mingled together in the utterances of those who spoke in the power (Baxter, Narrative, p. 133,134). Sometimes it was but a jargon of mere sounds (ibid.). The speaker was commonly unable to interpret what he uttered; sometimes the office was undertaken by another. A clear and interesting summary of the history of the whole movement is given in Mrs. Oliphanlt's Life of Irving, vol. 2. Those who wish to trace it through all its stages must be referred to the seven volumes of the Morning Watch, and especially to Irving's series of papers on the Gifts of he Spirit in vols. 3, 4:and 6; Whatever other explanation may be given of the facts there exists no ground for imputing: a deliberate imposture to any of the persons who were most conspicuous in the movement.
8. In certain exceptional states of mind and body the powers of memory are known to receive a wonderful and abnormal strength. In the delirium of fever, in the ecstasy of a trance, men speak in their old age languages, which they have never heard or spoken since their earliest youth. The accent of their common speech is altered; Women, ignorant and untaught, repeat long sentences in Greek, Latin, and Hebrew, which they had once heard, without in any degree understanding or intending to remember them; In all such cases the marvelous power is the accompaniment of disease, and passes away when the patient returns to his usual state, to the; healthy equilibrium and interdependence of the life of sensation and of thought (Abercrombie, Intellectual Powers, p. 140-143; Winslow, Obscure Diseases of the Brain, p; 337, 360, 374; Watson, Principles and Practice
of Physic, 1, 128). . The medieval belief that this power of speaking in tongues belonged to those who were possessed by evil spirits rests, obviously, upon like psychological phenomena (Peter Martyr, Loci Communes, 1, 10; Bayle, Dict. s.v. "Grandier").
We refer to the above singular phenomena of modern times not as genuine samples of the scriptural glossolalia, but as illustrating some of the physical and mental symptoms with which they were accompanied. In many instances, no doubt, the Biblical facts have been merely imitated, and in others they have exercised unconsciously a reproductive power. See Wieseler. in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, 3, 703; 1839, 2, 483; 3. 752; 1843, 3, 659 sq.; 1847, 1, 55; also the monographs cited by Volbelding, Index Programmatum, p. 73.
IV. This subject is not merely curious and interesting, but full of practical moment.
1. It shows how well the Gospel message was accredited in its first promulgation. It fixes attention on the high consequence of preaching the Gospel; of declaring its message with a glowing, burning earnestness, anti of obtaining the live coal which is to kindle the heart from off God's altar.
2. Inasmuch as the tongues of fire appear to have rested on private Christians as well as apostles, and on women as well as men for no distinction, no exception, is made in the narrative we are admonished that all are bound in the measure of their ability to speak for God, to let no corrupt communication proceed out of their mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
3. At the same time we are warned that the tongue might be had in its integrity while the fire was wanting or feeble Paul himself; though avowing that he could speak with tongues more than they all, felt the need of being prayed for by saints, "with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, that utterance might be given him, that he might open his mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the Gospel."
4. We learn, finally, from the apostle that faith, hope, and charity were better than this physical endowment, as having a more abiding character.