SPEAKING with tongues has been a feature of recent revival meetings held in various cities of Ohio. As reported in the secular and religious press these manifestations have taken the form of articulate but unintelligible utterances for the most part. In one instance, however, a young woman is reported to have "babbled for nearly an hour in what is said to be the Greek language," though in her normal condition she disclaimed all knowledge of the ancient tongue. These involuntary utterances appear to be a part of the sign manual of the "Apostolic Faith Movement," which we are informed by a writer in The Wesleyan Methodist (Syracuse), "originated in the Pentecostal experiences of Evangelist Charles F. Parham and colaborers in Topeka, Kans., in A.D. 1900, January 1." At that time a Miss Agnes Ozman, a member of the Bible school previously founded by Mr. Parham, "received the gift of the holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance." On January 3 following "twelve students were filled with the holy Spirit, and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave utterance." On January 3 following "twelve students were filled with the holy Spirit, and spake with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, while some in the room were said to have seen cloven tongues of fire as they appeared on the day of Pentecost." In these events is said to reside the origin of a more or less wide-spread movement frequently referred to as the "present Pentecost." The adherents of this movement make the claim that "speaking with tongues" is "the only Bible evidence of the baptism of the holy Spirit." An examination of the manifestations was made by S. A. Manwell and reported by him in The Wesleyan Methodist (February 20). He writes as follows:
"Those with whom the writer has talked who claim this gift, say that the spirit takes possession of their vocal organs and uses them as he wills, while their minds are at rest. They say they are conscious that their vocal organs are being used, but do not know how, nor do they know what they are saying. They have no power to stop speaking when once the spirit possesses them. In the meeting I attended, two women were thus wrought upon. One remained in that condition four or five minutes; the other but a few seconds. The first indication I had of anything out of the ordinary was a low muttering sound without articulation. This muttering lasted but a few seconds, then the voice raised to a more natural tone and volume and it would be hard to imagine how a more rapid succession of sounds could come from the mouth of a human being. For the most part, these sounds appeared to be articulate, but if she spoke a language no one knew it. She herself knew not the meaning of any sound she made. In the same series of meetings on another occasion, another lady was similarly possessed, and when it was time to go home her tongue was yet speaking, and instead of taking a street car, as she had formerly done, she walked, not desiring to enter a car with her vocal organs beyond her control. If I remember correctly, her tongue did not cease until she had nearly or quite reached her home. Some are said to have spoken in as many as twelve different languages, but in all this I had no evidence that what they uttered were languages of earth or heaven. That these people were sincere in their belief that the Spirit of God was moving them, I have no doubt. They believed they were talking a foreign language."
In trying to "identify" this movement Mr. Manwell quotes Isaiah respecting "the spirits that peep and mutter," with this addition: "To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them." Certain other historic phases of aberrant religious manifestation seem, according to Mr. Manwell, to classify with the present outbreak. Thus:
"History records that during the early part of the last century, the affliction known as the jerks raged with violence. Young men and women were seized [R3975 : page 116] with it and fell in convulsions. Wicked men were seized, swearing at every jerk. Some not affected with the regular jerks ran through the woods till exhausted; others crawled on the ground as a religious exercise; while some jumped and some barked for the same reason, and a few spoke in 'unknown tongues,' from which facts arose those obscure classes of sectaries derisively known as Jumpers, Barkers and Mutterers....
"It is also a matter of history that in the early days of the Mormon Church, whole days of 'speaking meetings' were devoted to it. We find that the claims made by the Mormons are the same now being made by the 'Apostolic Faith Movement.' Mr. Parham says, 'We truly are in the days of the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.' In an announcement of the 'origin, purpose and methods of the movement,' we find the following: 'Handkerchiefs blest in behalf of the distant sick.' We do not remember that many people since the days of Paul have dared to go to this extreme. We are forcibly reminded that a few years since a man by the name of Schlatter practised sorceries, blest handkerchiefs, and otherwise played with the credulity of the people. So much so that special railroad trains were run to carry the hundreds of sick to him for healing. That Paul had extraordinary power of this kind we do not doubt, but what promise or intimation have we that such power would be continued? If this one feature of the movement were all, it would be enough to brand it as a counterfeit.
"In these days the devil is working in every possible way to destroy the work of Christ. 'He comes as an angel of light, deceiving if possible the very elect.' He counterfeits everything that is good. Many honest souls are being deceived and the work of God is hindered. In the meeting where I made my observations not a sinner was converted to God, and I am credibly informed that the manifestation of the so-called 'tongues' brought no conviction to sinners, but to the contrary, the number thrown into doubt and greater unbelief was greater than those who professed to have the 'tongues.'"—Literary Digest.
"Protestantism is a modern kind of Cerberus with 125 heads, all barking discordantly," says the Rev. Charles Edward Stowe, son of the late Harriet Beecher Stowe, and himself a prominent Protestant divine, being pastor of the Central Square Congregational Church at Bridgewater. He is of the opinion that in many respects life was brighter in the so-called "dark ages" than it is today. This condition is due, he says, in part to the many sub-divisions of sects and creeds in religion.
He exceedingly regrets the condition of Protestantism in America and England today, there being, according to him, 125 different sects in these countries. "There is great unrest and hunger among the Protestants of today that refuses to be allayed by critics or aesthetics," he says:—
"There were but few, very few colonists in numbers, and their material wealth was entirely inconsequential; how can we account for the stupendous influence which this tiny commonwealth exerted and still exerts on the history of mankind?
"There is one, and only one, possible answer to this question. It was their devotion to the invisible, the eternal, the moral order of the universe, the glory of God! They endured, and yet endure, as seeing him who is invisible. All the history of mankind for them centered about his cradle and his cross, and for them there were none of those unusual benefits and privileges which we enjoy in this enlightened age, of being illuminated by the dark wisdom of the blind moles and [R3976 : page 116] bats of a godless, Christless scholarship that burrows in the holy ground of Sinai and Calvary alike, finding there only common dirt.
"Alas! It is only too true that the heavenly city which our Puritan fathers yearned for and sought with prayers and tears has become to many of their Christian descendants a frigid city of ice palaces, built of pale negations, cold, cheerless, shining in a pale winter sun with an evanescent glitter of a doubtful and unsubstantial intellectual worth.
"The full, rich, glorious Christ of Catholic Christianity has been dragged from his throne by these 'advanced thinkers'—God save the mark!—and reduced to beggary. A pale, bloodless, emaciated Syrian ghost, he still dimly haunts the icy corridors of this twentieth century Protestantism, from which the doom of his final exclusion has been already spoken.
"Then in their boundless arrogance and self-assertion they turn upon those of us who still cry with Thomas before the Risen One, 'my Lord and my God,' and tell us that there is no middle ground between their own vague and sterile rationalism and the Roman Catholic Church. If this be so, then for me most gratefully and lovingly I turn to the Church of Rome as a homeless, houseless wanderer to a home in a continuing city.
"We are hungry for God, yea, for the living God, and hence so restless and dissatisfied. The husk of life's fruit is growing thicker, and its meat thinner and dryer every day for the vast majority of our people. In many and important respects life was brighter in the so-called 'Dark Ages' than it is today. The seamless robe of Christ is rent into hideous fragments and trampled in the dirt.
"It is not all good that we have inherited from our Puritan and Pilgrim sires. We have been talking about civil and religious liberty as if that were the only thing in the world. Noting the use the average man and woman makes of this boasted liberty today, one is inclined to think it would be far better for them if they had less liberty and more law."—Boston American.
"There are others beside economists who have turned to psychology in order to explain great movements, economic, socialistic or governmental. The master of them all is Gustave Le Bon, author of the famous study on the "Psychology of Crowds." In that work are the full explanations of such phenomena as this country is now witnessing in the ever-increasing hostility to corporations, corporation managers, bankers, capitalists and men prominent in affairs. There is usually, unfortunately, a basis for the fearful antipathy [R3976 : page 117] which is finally engendered among the "crowd" against the leaders. But this antipathy, small in the beginning is fostered and cultivated by pure reasoners and demagogues alike, until each offence, big or little, is magnified into some monstrous crime. Calm men are converted into ravening wolves, reasoning creatures lose their sense of proportion, mere suspicion becomes confirmation of dreadful offences and men are condemned unheard and executed unshriven. The French Revolution is a case in point, a psychological demonstration, and the spirit of one is developing now."
There is truth in the above clipping. We are not defending thefts great or small, but readily agree that public indignation is apt to be unjust—not only in including the better with the worse, but also in showing no mercy on the erring, even though it would be conceded that the majority would have done the same if they had possessed the opportunity. We cannot suppose that the rich of other lands are superior in morals either. They may have seen less opportunity, or have not been exposed to such a searching public examination.
However, all this is exactly what the Bible led us to expect. A revealing from the housetops and a consequent breaking down of the respect of the masses for the upper classes, whose wealth is more and more coming to be recognized as illegitimately secured. Thus is our present Lord guiding in the affairs of earth toward the great climacteric of selfish and embittered anarchy—the predicted "time of trouble such as was not since there was a nation."
We agree, then, that G. Le Bon is quite correct in his declaration that crowds and classes are often moved en masse to do things that would not be considered by them as individuals, and that the experiences of the French Revolution will be duplicated throughout Christendom. Thank God that we can see a silver lining to this cloud: that it will be followed speedily by the rise of the great Sun of Righteousness to heal and bless and enlighten "all the families of the earth."
"Never were there so many Bibles in the world as there are today. And never was the Bible so much praised. Never were there so many Sunday schools as now, and the one great purpose of the Sunday school is the study of the Bible. Yet even among the teachers in our Sunday schools the ignorance of the Bible is nothing less than deplorable; the proportion of gray heads among them is comparatively very small. The great majority of them are but novices in the Christian life, and they have enlisted in this service not because of any special fitness for it, but because there was a lack of teachers, and their youthful zeal prompted them to enter a door that seemed to open up a field of usefulness. But their zeal was not according to knowledge. They were utterly unfurnished for so responsible a task. They have been doing the best they could—poor things!...How few of our Sunday school teachers have any conception of Scripture truth in its entirety—in its glorious symmetry! How few of our Bible school teachers have any definite knowledge of the way in which our Bible, as we have it, came into being—of the canon of Scripture, of the proofs of the authenticity of the Scriptures, of the meaning of the inspiration of the Scriptures, of the relation of the Old and New Testament Scriptures, and the meaning of all this hullabaloo that has been lately raised about the 'higher criticism.' When confronted with questions raised by modern skepticism they are dumb and ashamed because of their utter ignorance. And these questions are apt at any time to be raised in the very classes that they teach. They have never had the advantage of any theological training, and why should they be expected to answer them?
"Now something ought to be done to remedy, if possible, this lamentable lack, and that teachers themselves should first be taught, so that when they come to teach they should not 'mutter and peep,' but speak with no uncertain sound, and not only know, but know that they know, and so be able to render to every man that asketh them a reason for the hope that is in them."
"The Westminster Confession in fact says that God is a monster; modern theology says that he is not. Tamerlane built a pyramid of two thousand men of the garrison of Herat, laid in brick and mortar, and history calls him a monster for doing it. Lord Jeffreys presided over the 'bloody circuit,' in which he condemned 700 to execution, and he stands scorned and by himself on the scroll of England's Chancellors. But Tamerlane and Jeffreys were sweet souls compared with a God who could condemn a whole race to endless torment for a single sin.
"Readers of 'Lorna Doone' will remember how the robber Doones of Bagworthy looted a farmer's cottage and found a little babe in its cradle. One of them called to his comrade to have a game with him. He tossed the infant to the other, who caught it upon the point of his pike. We call these men fiends, but they were bright angels and seraphs compared with a God who could send millions of infants to eternal torments.
"The moral sense of the people is shocked by the shilly-shallying of the Presbyterian Church as to the Confession. The present connection of the Presbyterian Church with the Confession, if it were not so serious, would be a farce; being so serious, it is a crime. A sham theology is sure to make a sham religion."
Our amazement is excited by a proposition to convert two-fifths of the area of the United States from arid lands into fertile farms. Yet this stupendous enterprise is seriously entertained by the youngest division [R3976 : page 118] of our government. It contemplates nothing less than the ultimate solving of the 50,000,000 acres of waste comprising the great American desert. The undertaking will involve the expenditure of $1,500,000, but it will create $2,350,000,000 worth of taxable property, and will provide homes for 3,000,000 of our future population. This is the prospective goal to which the bureau aspires, and its engineers declare that it is attainable within the present half-century.—Merchants' League Advocate.
Beside me walks—O hallowed thought!—
The Maker of the Universe,
The God and King of Heaven and Earth—
My Father! Tenderly he leads
My stumbling steps. I hear rare words
Of wisdom, warnings of the snares
On right and left; encouragement
To overcome the obstacles
Which here and there obstruct my way.
And as he brings before mine eyes
Grand visions of the glory bright
Awaiting (if I hold in him
My confidence firm to the end,
Inspiring me with promises
Of grace abundant for each need)
I oft forget the landscape drear,
And dangers imminent, and walk
In ecstasies of light and hope.
Now brightly shines upon my path
The glorious sun! The air is fresh
And sweet, and hopes run high of what
I shall accomplish for my Lord.
The melody within my heart
Has tuned my lips; and songs of praise
And gladness tell the peace and joy
Which they alone can feel who know
The secret of his will, and walk
In child-like trustfulness therein.
And still, when chilling mists enshroud,
And storms my wondering faith appal,
I know that he is nigh and will
Preserve my steps. Why should I fear
As landmark after landmark fades
To shadow, and I find myself
Alone with him who knows them all?
Can I but wait with shoulders bent
And visage set, until he calm
The tempest, and the way be cleared?
Then, stronger for the test endured,
Shall I by his unchanging grace
The paths of peace again pursue.
O Lord, how precious is this walk
With thee! Nor height, nor depth, nor length,
Nor breadth, nor creatures near or far,
Can separate thy child from thee.
Strong in thy strength, I tread
On scorpions, quench the adder's fang,
The roaring lion subjugate,—
E'en tempting angels, clothed in light,
And powerless to work their charm,
Since Christ in me doth conquer all.