Imágenes de páginas

ments of its ministry. And as, to turn to another analogy, the incomprehensible truth of the diversities which exist even in perfect bliss, whereby in the one light of the one Paradise saint still differeth from saint in glory, was shown to Dante in the parable, the economy, of the nine successive spheres: so was the invisible and unutterable miracle of the divine revelation, the bliss of the ransomed soul, the access by one Spirit unto the Father, rendered among the things of sense by the gifts of faith, of healing, and of tongues. When then the mind of the world had been brought into relation and acquaintance with the true miracle, the unveiled reality, the spiritual achievement of the Incarnation, then the powers which, for a time, and for a special purpose, had deigned to stay in the material order, returned to their proper home in the Sacraments of the Church and in the souls of men; when the kingdom of God, the spiritual city, the New Jerusalem, was set upon an hill, so that it could not be hid; when all who would, might, by the blessed experience of their own souls, know what Christ had done, and was doing, among men, and see

• Paradiso, Canto iv,

for themselves, and in themselves, the substance of that miracle which the outward marvels had but shadowed forth ;-then the power of God returned from the broken and imperfect expression of His Presence in visible signs and wonders, to rest and work in the freedom and intimacy of the world of spirit; to work henceforward its proper miracles in the ways which Christ had died to open out: in "the changing of hearts, the cleansing of consciences; in the healing of wounded souls, the opening of lips and ears and eyes to the voices and truths of the eternal world ; in the raising of souls just dead by some act of sin, or borne on in evil habits, or buried under hardness and impenitence, loosing them from their grave-clothes, strengthening and feeding them, filling them full of life, transforming them into the likeness and the fellowship of angels, into the image of the Only-Begotten Son of God."

But the recognition of this living and essential connection between the inward miracle and its outward evidence gives also a new meaning and importance to the record of the latter. For, if the miraculous gifts of the Apostolic Church were only the rendering into another language, the translation into sight, of the abiding spiritual powers with which Christ endowed His Church by the mission and indwelling of the Holy Ghost; then the record of those transient gifts may be to us a guide of hope and faith and work, in regard to the activities and range and direction of the great gift which is still conferred by the laying on of Apostolic hands in our Ordination. We receive, in undiminished power and fulness, Him whose Presence was of old declared, to those who knew Him not, by the marvels of supernatural knowledge and healing and utterance: we can read the history of those wonderful works which, when He willed to control the attention of the world that He might touch its heart, He chose as the outward expression of His unseen miracles : may we not learn therefrom something of those His inward workings, which have never ceased, and never shall cease, for whose ministration we have dared to offer ourselves? In the hope of finding some such lesson and guidance, in the hope of learning what we should look for, correspond with in our ministry, I would ask you to read with me the list of those χαρίσματα, διακονίαι and évépyelai by which the ministry of reconciliation was marked in the Church of Corinth : the list which is given in the 8th, 9th, and roth verses of the 12th chapter of St. Paul's First Epistle to the Corinthians.

I greatly long that He, Whose love and might can cleanse the heart and guide the thoughts even of His most stubborn and sin-hindered servants, may, as He only can, purify and bless for your use, something of that which His mercy may suffer me to say.

Let us divide the subject according to the suggestion of the three verses with which St. Paul begins this part of his letter. The gifts which are enumerated in vv. 8, 9, 10, are nine in number; and their enumeration is, as it were, an expansion, giving increased emphasis and intensity to the triple rhythm, which, in vv. 4, 5, 6, is expressly connected with the Three Persons of the Ever-blessed Trinity. There are, St. Paul has said, diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit: there are diversities of ministrations, but the same Lord : there are diversities of inwrought works, but it is the same God which worketh all in all: now he goes on to enlarge this threefold movement of the power from on high, as the circling ripples widen where the stone has touched the water, into a ninefold list of supernatural activities. It is at least reasonable to ask whether the original threefoldness is marked in any way within the enumeration of the nine gifts; which, being thus divided, would fall into these three classes :

[blocks in formation]


Gifts of healing,
Works of miraculous powers, and

Discernings of spirits,
3. Diverse kinds of tongues, and

The interpretation of tongues.

Let us take this division, and consider each of these three classes in turn. Of course, no such classification can be final, or, according to human logic, satisfactory : we can seldom, if ever, draw hard lines in the living and moving order of God's work, or put our own brackets within the scheme of His boundless power and love: I shall be thankful if this division only seems to you, as to me, convenient and suggestive.

« AnteriorContinuar »