On the Presence and Action of the Holy Ghost in the Church,

in answer to the work of Mr. P. Wolff, entitled,
"Ministry as opposed to Hierarchism and chiefly to Religious Radicalism,"
Valence, 1844
J. N. Darby.

<03007F> {file section d.}

283 CHAPTER 16


The writer begins his demonstration by rather a remarkable avowal. It is, that the existence of gifts by the side of ministry is impossible — at least by the side of such a ministry as Mr. Wolff will have. In order that his ministry may exist, it is necessary that gifts should have absolutely ceased. I believe it. It is on this point the popish system (that is, a ministry which has God's authority, having its vocation from Him, without dependence on the Holy Ghost, and without flowing from His energy, without partaking either of His gifts): and so true is this, that if there were gifts, it would no longer subsist. It is important well to understand this position. The basis of the whole pamphlet is the absolute incompatibility of ministry (according to the system of Mr. Wolff and his party) with the existence of the active energy and the gifts of the Holy Ghost. Yes, the writer says so (p. 69): "To pretend to the present existence of gifts is to establish by the side of ministry a rival power which hinders it, which enervates it, and which, by placing itself above it, ends either by killing it, or by forcing it to throw itself into clerical despotism in order to maintain its rank and its dignity." What a confession! But at least we can bless God that He has been pleased to compel our adversaries thus to avow what is true as to their system. The Holy Ghost must be excluded! This is what decided me on that point many years ago; but I did not expect to find a public avowal of it.

The writer seeks to avoid setting everybody against him by admitting brotherly exhortation; but even this resource the word takes from him; for exhortation is a gift (charisma) according to the word (Rom. 12:6-8).

This subject is most important, and it is worth while examining it somewhat thoroughly.

According to Mr. Wolff, the source of error about gifts (p. 70, 1°) is in this, that the gift of the Holy Ghost has been confounded with the gifts or graces of the Holy Ghost.

I admit the difference which exists between the gift of the Holy Ghost and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, but not in the least for the reasons given by Mr. Wolff; reasons which appear to me false and contradictory, and which overthrow the whole teaching of the word of God on the subject. When one speaks of the gift of the Holy Ghost, it is the Holy Ghost Himself who is given. The expression itself is only found once, in a direct way, in the word; nevertheless it is alluded to elsewhere. When one speaks of the gifts of the Holy Ghost, one speaks of what the Holy Ghost has given. As, for instance, 1 Corinthians 12:8, "For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit," etc. These are evidently gifts of the Holy Ghost, and not the gift of the Holy Ghost, that is, the Holy Ghost given. But Mr. Wolff confounds all that.

284 I admit that charisma is used for the gifts bestowed by the Holy Ghost; but this word is used in a much more general way. Hence Mr. Wolff contradicts himself by saying exclusively, as we shall see; but we shall speak of it farther on. Let it suffice for the present that I admit the use of the word charisma, not as the only word used for gifts, but when it is a question of gifts: these gifts are the gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Let us see now what is absolutely lacking to us according to Mr. Wolff's system, who will have it that gifts no longer exist. With this object let us examine the things to which the expression applies in the word.

In Romans 12 we find the following enumeration: prophecy, ministry or service, teaching, exhortation, ruling, shewing mercy. I stop there, because in what follows practical grace takes the place of gifts by a kind of imperceptible transition. "Let love be without dissimulation," is what follows; but all the things I have quoted are charismata. These things no longer exist in the Church according to Mr. Wolff.

In 1 Corinthians 12:8-11 we read that it is by the Spirit that are given the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, faith, the gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, tongues, the interpretation of tongues: it is the Spirit who worketh all these things. Lower down (v. 28), apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healings, helps, governments, tongues — all these things are gifts. Consequently, according to Mr. Wolff, all these things are wanting to the Church.

We read (1 Peter 4:10-11), "If any man speak … if any man minister," or exercise ministry. These things also, speaking, exercising ministry, are gifts (charismata). Consequently these things are wanting, according to Mr. Wolff.

285 Let it not be supposed that I am forcing anything. The writer (p. 71) quotes these passages, save 1 Peter 4:11, as speaking of the gifts which no longer exist. He adds (p. 74) that "whoever may speak in the church has certainly not a gift, because of this." Not only then there does not exist, and cannot exist, either miracles or tongues; but further, there cannot exist either teaching or ministry (or service), or exhortation, or ruling, or faith, or governments, or word of wisdom, or word of knowledge, any more than apostles or prophets; one cannot speak nor serve either, for if any one speaks, he is bound to do it as having a gift (charisma). In spite of all that, we are told that where there are a few faithful men, one enjoys all the blessings of the dispensation! !

Such is, if we take the words and the passages according to Mr. Wolff's interpretation, the effect of his principles.

But further, there is a passage where it is a question of gifts, a passage which Mr. Wolff has omitted — it is Ephesians 4. It is true that the word charisma is not found there, but it is equally gifts, and gifts presented in the same character as in 1 Corinthians 12, presented under a very important aspect, as being members of the body (Eph. 4). There is one Spirit and one body, and Christ having ascended up on high, gave gifts unto men (domata): apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, and pastors. Perhaps Mr. Wolff wishes these to be ministries, but the word calls them gifts (domata), and not ministries. And it is a question of the one body which answers to the one Spirit (v. 4), as well as in the passage, 1 Corinthians 12; the Church being the habitation of God through the Spirit (Eph. 2:22). Thus — always according to Mr. Wolff — there are neither pastors nor evangelists either, if gifts no longer exist, It is of no use saying they are admitted as ministries; the word of God only presents them to us as gifts; we are here not to invent a system, but to receive what the word reveals and declares. That is what Mr. Wolff pretends he is doing. In that case, I ask him in what passage these things are presented as ministries and not as gifts (except, that what is true, and what he denies, the word of God, in the most positive manner, presents ministry as the exercise of a gift). Let a person read Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Peter 4:10-11; and then let him tell us if these things are presented as gifts or not; if they are gifts, we must no longer, according to Mr. Wolff, seek them at the present day in the Church, gifts having ceased.

286 But there is something to point out as to the use of the words. First, the word charisma is used very generally in the word for a free gift, as in Romans 5:15-16, where it is used indiscriminately with dorea and charis and dorema. The difference is this, that charisma and dorema signify rather the thing given: dorea and charis, the former the free character of the gift, as with an intention to express that it is a gift; the latter, charis, expresses the grace, the principle by virtue of which one gives freely.

There is something more. Mr. Wolff distinguishes (p. 70, 1°) between "the gift of the Holy Ghost, which every Christian receives when he believes, and the supernatural gifts which are produced by the same Spirit."

Although a person now may receive the Holy Ghost at the very moment he believes, it is nevertheless evident that the disciples, who had believed, had not received the Holy Ghost during the life of Christ here below. We read in John 7:39, "This spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive"; and Peter says to the Jews, "Repent, and be baptized … and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." I suppose that this is to receive the Holy Ghost when one believes. Now this is dorea, the gift of the Holy Ghost; but this word is used to designate the gift of the Holy Ghost which Cornelius received (Acts 10:45), of which gift Peter says that it was the same thing which they had themselves received at Pentecost (Acts 10:47). It is certain that when the Lord (John 7:39) speaks "of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive, for the Holy Ghost was not yet," He does not speak of grace to believe, but of what came to pass on the day of Pentecost, of what happened to Cornelius, to those of Samaria, of the gift concerning which Peter said, "The promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call." But, in all these cases, it was receiving the Holy Ghost after having believed. (See Acts 2:31; ch. 10:46; ch. 11:17; ch. 8:20.)

But all that, according to Mr. Wolff, was only miraculous gifts, gifts that were independent of the gift of the Holy Ghost. It matters not that the Lord spoke "of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive." It matters not that Peter said, "Ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." It matters not that in Acts 8 it is said, "For as yet he was fallen upon none of them"; and that Simon saw that "they received the Holy Ghost" thus, that "the Holy Ghost was given" thus. It matters not that Peter called it "the gift of God," dorean. It matters not that this gift was "the promise of the Father" (Acts 1:4; ch. 2:33), even the Comforter, of whom He had spoken who was now ascended to the Father. (Compare Ephesians 4; Acts 2:33; John 16; Luke 24:49.) It matters not that this Comforter was to ABIDE FOR EVER with the Church, and that the promise was for as many as the Lord should call; Acts 2. All that was only miraculous gifts, independent of the gifts of the Holy Ghost; and consequently all has completely and equally ceased. Those are the only passages which speak of the gift of the Holy Ghost, of receiving the Holy Ghost. Page 73, 15°, Mr. Wolff disposes of the passages in Acts 10:45; ch. 11:17; ch. 2:4, 33, 38. Page 71, 6°, he disposes of Acts 8: all that, according to him, was independent of the gift of the Holy Ghost, it was miraculous gifts. But the fact is, that we must in the same way dispose of the seal of the Holy Ghost (Eph. 4:30; ch. 1:13): for it is the Holy Spirit of promise. See Acts 2:33, 38; ch. 1:4; Luke 24:49.

287 Let us remember that, although Mr. Wolff disposes of these passages as referring to miraculous gifts, they are the passages which speak of the gift of the Holy Ghost, dorean, which he distinguishes (p. 70, 7°) from gifts, charismata, and which also, at the same time, are not the gift of the Holy Ghost, but the gifts which have ceased. That is, the whole system is false from one end to the other, and is nothing but confusion. It was the Holy Ghost who was received, whatever might be the manifestations of His presence.

I admit the difference between the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the gifts which the Holy Ghost gave; but I affirm that what was given at Pentecost, at Samaria, at Joppa, was the gift of the Holy Ghost who was promised: I affirm it, because the word of God says so in the passages quoted.

Having proved the falsehood and the contradictions of Mr. Wolff's system, I will shew what the word of God says on the subject — a subject of great importance.

First, although the Holy Ghost has acted from the beginning in creation, although He has from that time acted in the soul, acted in the prophets and others as a divine Being, as God, using them as His instruments, He had not descended to take His place and dwell on earth, as He has done in the Church. The glorification of Christ, of the Son of man, was necessary for that. This is what is said in John 7:39; chaps 14, 15, 16; Luke 24:49, and in the beginning of Acts, as, for instance, Acts 2:33, a passage already quoted: Christ glorified, ascended on high, sends from the Father, and the Father sends, in His name, that other Comforter who was to abide for ever, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Ghost. This Comforter, witness of the glory of Christ, was the seal of faith in that glory, and the revealer of all the truth. Himself, the God of love, and fruit of that love for the soul, shed it abroad in the heart; it was the Holy Ghost Himself who was given, the Holy Ghost who had been promised, and who was the seal of faith, the seal of him who believed (John 7; Eph. 1:13; 2 Cor. 1:21-22.) That it was the Holy Ghost Himself who was thus given, is what is proved by the passages quoted from John and Luke, and by their accomplishment in the beginning of Acts.

288 We have seen that this gift was to abide for ever, and that it was for as many as the Lord should call. We may add that we are builded together to be the "habitation of God through the Spirit," and that the Spirit dwells not only in the individual, but in the body;* a truth Mr. Wolff has entirely lost sight of, except to deny the unity which results from it. See Ephesians 2:21-22; 1 Corinthians 3:9, 16; Ephesians 4:4.

{*[The reader will find in the author's later papers a correction of the phrase. Church here would be more exact than "body." This dwelling of the Spirit is in relation to the assembly viewed as God's habitation, house, or temple, rather than as the body of Christ. — ED.]}

Let us now see what are the effects of the presence of the Holy Ghost, of that glorious gift of God. Let us remember that the word of God only speaks of the gift of the Holy Ghost, in speaking of the Comforter, of what came to pass on the day of Pentecost, and of that which corresponds to that day.

First, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us."

The little children in Christ have the unction of the Holy Ghost, and know all things; 1 John 2. I suppose it will not be denied that this is the Holy Ghost. We are anointed, sealed, and we have the earnest of the Holy Ghost in the heart; 2 Cor. 1:21-22. We possess Him — that Comforter — as the earnest of the inheritance; we are sealed — we are "sealed unto the day of redemption," Eph. 1:13; ch. 4:30. He is a Spirit of adoption in our hearts, so that we enjoy our relationship with the Father; Gal. 4:6.

289 He gives us the certainty that we are in Christ; 1 John 3:24. He lusts in us against the flesh, and produces fruits; Gal. 5:17, 22. He sets free, quickens, puts to death the deeds of the body, leads, cries Abba, Father; He bears witness Himself that we are children, and sympathizes with our infirmities; (Rom. 8). He leads us into all the truth, communicates unto us that which is of Christ; He is the same who was to shew the things to come (John 16), the Comforter.

He it is — and the same He is — by whom the apostles received spiritual things, were able to communicate them, and by whom, thereupon, others were able to discern them; 1 Cor. 2:12, 15. And here observe, that it is the same Spirit whom the apostles received in order to know the things of God, and by whom others have discerned them; that is, the apostolic gift of revelation and of communication, and the gift of spiritual understanding in the simple believer.

He is the same Spirit who unites the body (1 Cor. 12:13); we have all been baptized in the power of one Spirit, to be one body.

This is what must be given up, if one has to give up the gift of the Holy Ghost (dorea), the gift Mr Wolff calls "miraculous gifts."

No, it will be told us — no: the miraculous gifts alone are denied. But I reply that the Holy Ghost whom we have received, the dorea, is what Mr. Wolff calls "miraculous gifts"; that is what was given to the hundred and twenty at Pentecost, what was given to Cornelius, etc. It is He who gave to the apostles to know the truth, and who gave to others to discern the truth — He who was in all the believers the earnest of the inheritance — who was the Holy Ghost of promise, that is, the gift (dorea) given at Pentecost.

He who led into all truth was the same as He who shewed the things to come. The fact is, that it is the Holy Spirit Himself, the third Person of the Trinity, who came down from heaven, as the second did at the time of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. What He does is another thing, which follows after the fact of His presence. If He sheds abroad the love of God in the heart, or if He causes some to speak divers tongues, it is always the same Spirit; or if His presence proves the sin of the world and the righteousness of God, it is always the Holy Ghost Himself who is there — who produces spiritual fruits, or who acts in whatever way it may be; who gives liberty and causes to abound in hope. Jesus Christ Himself was brought again from among the dead by the same Spirit, who was the Spirit of holiness in Him; our dead bodies will be raised on account of His Spirit who dwells in us; Rom. 1:4; ch. 8:9-11.

290 The epistle to the Galatians presents to us in a very distinct way this gift of the Holy Ghost, which marks the present dispensation in all its forms, its moral and miraculous effects. He who is led by the Spirit is not under law. The fruits of the Spirit are love, faith, peace, etc. If one walk in the Spirit, one does not fulfil the lusts of the flesh. The Spirit lusts against the flesh; Gal. 5:18, 22, 26. At the same time, we are told that we have received the Spirit, not by works of law, but by the hearing of faith; Gal. 3:2. He who ministered to them the Spirit, and worked miracles among them, did it, not by works of law, but by the hearing of faith. Christ had borne the curse, in order that "the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles," and they "might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith," Gal. 3:14. Here we clearly see what Spirit was received through faith. There was only that Spirit received through faith, who was followed with miracles and who was thus recognized. Stephen, full of the Holy Ghost, and thus fitted for the service to which he was called, bears an irresistible testimony, on account of "the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spake." Was it another Spirit who rendered him fit for the service of tables (Acts 6:3), and by whom he confounded his adversaries (Acts 6:8, 10)? or is it not true that those who have served well "purchase to themselves a good degree, and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus," 1 Tim. 3:13? And if Timothy had received a gift by the putting on of hands, a charisma (2 Tim. 1:6), he must stir it up, because "God hath not given us the Spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." Are we to give up also power, love, and a sound mind? Compare Romans 8:15. This is what Mr. Wolff (p. 72, 9°) puts in direct contrast with the Spirit who sanctifies. When Timothy is exhorted to "keep, by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us," that good thing which was committed to him, was it a question of something different from the Holy Ghost given — the Comforter? If we wait "through the Spirit" (Gal. 5:5), it is by this same Comforter who is given.

291 If we examine the epistle to the Ephesians, we find one and the same Spirit presented also as working in every way, among the rest in that which Mr. Wolff (p. 72, 10°) declares to be merely miraculous, and this, moreover, I do not deny. He is (Eph. 1:13-14) the earnest of the inheritance, the seal of those who have believed, the Holy Spirit of promise. He is the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ (v. 17). They had, Jew and Gentile, "access by one Spirit unto the Father" (chap. 2:18); they were, Jews and Gentiles, "builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit" (v. 22); that is to say, God dwelt there, through the Spirit, as in a tabernacle. It was the same Spirit who revealed to men the mystery by the holy apostles and prophets. It is this same Spirit who strengthens in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in him by faith (chap. 3:5, 16). There is "one body, and one Spirit" of unity (chap. 4:3, 1); but "unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ" (doreas)--the word used for the gift of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost. It is the same Spirit whom we must not grieve (v. 30). We ought (chap. 5:18) to be "filled with the Spirit … singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord." But here we have, very probably at least, an act which is accompanied with that which was miraculous — "psalms and hymns and spiritual songs"; yet, are we forbidden to be filled with the Holy Ghost, and to sing in our hearts, because the miraculous act has ceased? for one must go as far as this. The word is "the sword of the Spirit": we must pray "in the Spirit" (chap. 6:17-18). Here then we see one and the same Spirit acting and manifesting Himself in every way — a Spirit whose presence answered to the presence of God in the tabernacle, and who acted in knowledge, in prayer, by the word, in unity, giving sometimes a psalm or a spiritual song; but it is always the same Spirit, the Person of the Holy Ghost as present, and revealing the presence of God in the Church. I have said enough to shew how the word of God speaks on this subject; I can now briefly state what the word of God presents.

The Holy Ghost has come, in person, on earth in the Church; He is present in Person; He is some one who can be grieved. He is present in two ways — in the individual and in the Church: "Ye are the temple of God, and … the Spirit of God dwelleth in you," 1 Cor. 3:16. "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost," 1 Cor. 6:19. He is, Himself, the gift (dorea) of God, sent by the Son, sent by the Father. Therefore, while He is God, we do not find that prayer is addressed to Him: not that all praise be not due to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but because He is always looked upon as on earth, as the Son was there; and He does not glorify Himself, but He glorifies the Father and the Son, and He is the source of all prayer and praise to the Father who gave Him, and to the Son who is glorified.

292 But, just as the Holy Ghost is the gift, so also, as the sovereign Spirit, as God, He gives, He "divides to every man severally as he will"; and there we find the gifts, the charismata. These may vary ad infinitum, may be more definitely marked, or modified, or lost. In this sense, practically, the Spirit may be quenched in the manifestation of His gifts, or the exercise of these same gifts may be despised. But the Holy Ghost Himself is there unto the end, not only as the sanctifying Spirit, as if it were something different, or, so to speak, another Spirit: it is the Holy Ghost Himself who maintains the rights of Christ, who represents Him, who is the other Comforter sent by the Father and by the Son (and it is not only in individuals, but in the Church) who acts in the Church in righteousness, but as sovereign also.

The manifestation of the Spirit may take place in such or such a way; but it is the Holy Ghost who is there, who manifests Himself. And this presence of the Holy Ghost was so really the presence of God in the Church, His tabernacle, that when Ananias and Sapphira sought to deceive the disciples, the apostle said, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? Thou hast not lied unto men but unto God." And God, as we know, exercised judgment as in His own house, and both the man and the wife, who had agreed together for that, fell down dead.

Was this a question of gifts only, or of the presence of God in the Church by the Holy Ghost? In effect, one of the functions of Jesus Christ, announced by John the Baptist, was, to baptize with the Holy Ghost; this came to pass on the day of Pentecost; Acts 1:5. Has the Church then entirely lost the baptism of the Holy Ghost? It was, according to Mr. Wolff, the communication of gifts. It is then that the Church was endued with power from on high. Is that power entirely lost? It is very clear that it is not only a question of gifts, if all this be lost, but of the presence of the Holy Ghost Himself in the Church. And mark here that, in speaking of gifts, it is said (1 Cor. 12:13), "By one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews," etc. We see clearly by this expression in what way gifts were connected with Him who, by His presence, constituted the unity of the whole body, and the existence of the Church as established here below, and in fact for ever.

293 The Holy Ghost having come from God, at the same time being God, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts. Being sent by the Father, He is a Spirit of adoption. Being the Spirit of Christ, He forms our affections and our walk according to the pattern of Christ. Sent, because the Son of man, rejected on earth, was received at the right hand of God, He is especially the witness of the glory of the Son of man, and of the grace that can flow out to the world as following after His glorification. Hence He comes on all flesh, and not only on the Jews; so that here grace and gifts are identified, for instance, in the tongues. The Holy Ghost overflows the narrow limits of Judaism, and, extending to the judgment of Babel, He reveals to all nations, to each in its own tongue, "the wonderful works of God." It was a gift, but it was also a remarkable testimony to grace. Miracles bear the same testimony; they shew that God in goodness had come into the midst of the evil, and both overruled and cast out the power of the prince of this world; for such was the effect of the presence of the Holy Ghost. It was God who in grace had come into the midst of the world, having the Church as the vessel of His power, and thus acting in man, and acting there in testimony to the glory and victory of Christ as man. We see in Acts 2 and 4 the union of all this, and that in the normal state the presence of the Holy Ghost produced grace, unity, power, and joy. God was there, and the evil hid itself, as vanquished before His presence — a presence which, identifying itself with the new man, with the Christian, occupied with the state of things in which sin had plunged the old man; and the effect of this was, as in Samaria, quite natural (although the malice of the heart opposed it): "there was great joy in that city." But the object was not only to bear testimony (that the world might believe) to the grace of God and to the victory of the Son of man over the power of Satan — a testimony borne in the aggregated Church by sovereign grace, to the glory of the Son Himself, who was not ashamed to call His brethren those who were sanctified. The Church itself was also the object. God had given His beloved ones to Christ. Christ had undertaken their salvation. He "loved the church and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing." Thus He nourisheth and cherisheth it as His own flesh. It is not a question of manifesting His rights and His glory to the world, although His glory be found there, and will at a future time be found there in a far more evident way (to wit, when the whole Church will have come unto perfection); neither is it a question of the operation of God properly speaking, in testimony, in the midst of evil. It is a question of the affections of Christ for the Church, and the care He takes of it in His faithfulness. It is a question of cleansing it by the word, in order to present it to Himself in glory, and cause it to grow up into Him in all things while it is down here.

294 Hence (although it is painful for me to be so didactic and methodical on a subject so precious and so full of strength and joy; but it is in order to be understood by those who are occupied with it) it follows that the Holy Ghost acts in three ways.

First, He is God present and working in power.

Secondly, He manifests, by His operations, the glory of the Son of man, and thus the relation of God in grace with the world.

Thirdly, Christ Himself nourishes and leads by His Spirit the Church, His body, for the edifying of it in love.

The first two of these three things are found in 1 Corinthians 12. God, by the Spirit, is there, in contrast with the demons who, as instruments, governed and seduced the world; but then it is a question, first of all, of acknowledging Jesus (and Jesus as man) to be the Lord, faithful to God, the conqueror of Satan. It is for this that God is acting in the world; as it is what makes an essential distinction between the Holy Ghost and demons. No one, speaking in the power of the Spirit, can say, Anathema Jesus; nor say, through a demon, Lord Jesus. Besides that, "there are diversities of gifts"; but not many spirits, as was the case with the demons, of whom there were many. There is one Spirit. There are diversities of services, but one Lord, He to whom the Holy Ghost bore witness. "There are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all." That which was an operation of God was, at the same time, a gift of the Holy Ghost, and a service done to the Lord whom that Spirit glorified and whom the God "who worketh all" had made "both Lord and Christ," and placed at His own right hand in glory; Acts 2:30-36. The identity of the operation of God and of the Holy Ghost is seen by comparing verses 6 and 11. If the Holy Ghost works and speaks in us, He works and speaks to render testimony to Christ, the Lord; and thus He causes him who speaks to act and to speak as servant or minister of Christ (not to be independent, because he has the Spirit). Therefore, the apostle says, Many members "are one body, so also is Christ." The members are directed by the head; the head uses the members. Therefore is it said (2 Cor. 3:8) "the ministration of the Spirit." The Holy Ghost gives the gift, and the individual thus made competent exercises his ministry, according to the passage of Peter, which we have already quoted, "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same" — or exercise ministry therein "as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."

295 Therefore, uniting the three things, as in the passage we are considering, the apostle says (2 Cor. 3:5-6), "Our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament [covenant]; not of the letter, but of the Spirit," etc.; and (verse 3) "Ye are the epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God."

Was not the apostle acting in his own gift of apostle when he did this? If not, do pray tell me what he did with his gift? No: it is evident that the object of the Holy Ghost was to give the link of these three things: the Spirit acting in gift, the operation of God therein, and the service or ministry to the Lord.

Further, it is not as concerning the Persons in the Trinity that all this is presented to us, but it is the order of the acting of God, of the Lord, and of the Spirit, looked upon as acting on earth. If the Lord and the Spirit had been spoken of, one might have supposed something inferior to God; for the heathen were accustomed to spirits of Python, etc., and to lords in great number. Therefore does the apostle insist upon there being but one Spirit who gives divers gifts, and not many spirits; one Lord who governed all that and was Head in all that — the Lord whom the Spirit glorified; lastly, he insists on this, that it was God Himself, the one true God, who worked in all that.

296 And mark that the writer himself calls our attention to the use of the word spiritual gifts (pneumatika) in 1 Corinthians 12:1: "A name," he says (p. 70), "which is assigned to them exclusively." He mistakes in saying "exclusively," for the word is often used for the things of the Spirit in general. See Romans 15:27, 1 Corinthians 9:11; ch. 2:13, in which last passage I would translate "communicating spiritual [things] by spiritual [means]"; or "[the things] of the Spirit by [words] of the Spirit." But here the things of the Spirit are gifts. Now, treating of these things of the Spirit, he speaks of the ministries of the one Lord. How then can one say that these ministries were not among those things of the Spirit?

And here I recall what I have already pointed out in part, namely, that in 1 Corinthians 12:4, 9 it is a question, according to Mr. Wolff, of gifts properly so called (p. 70); the repetition of the same subject in verse 28 is a classification of ministry (P. 50); and (p. 71) 1 Corinthians 12:28 is a catalogue of gifts, and gives us five. In this chapter, therefore, as on the other hand it is God who works, all the beauty and ornament of Christ in His body on earth was connected with the presence and operation of the Holy Ghost. The operation of God, the lordship of Jesus, the service of the believer, and the gifts of the Holy Ghost, were identified in the unity of the body, in the service of each member, in the diversity of gifts which were the manifestation of the Holy Ghost. We have in all that a dissertation on the things of the Spirit, the pneumatika. But it must not be thought that the action of the Holy Ghost consisted solely in fresh revelations; the word of knowledge and the word of wisdom were gifts of the Holy Ghost as well as a prophecy properly so called. As Paul says also in chapter 14, "If I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?" It is sometimes supposed that there must be a fresh revelation if the Holy Ghost is working in the one who speaks; it is not so at all. "He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort."

297 We saw that there is another object, to wit, the nurture and increase of the Church. Here then, it is no longer the beauty and ornament of the Church before the world, even by the gifts of the Holy Ghost, nor the operation of God in testimony, but the care Christ takes of His own body, of His flesh; Eph. 4. "He ascended up on high … and gave gifts [domata] unto men." Here the act of giving and the gifts are specially connected with Christ, who, as Head, nourishes the body. It is not a question of adorning the aggregate, or of acting in virtue of the rights of Christ, but of the relationship between the body and the Head. It is gathering and nourishing the Church, and not acting by the members of the Church, by particular acts of power.

The epistle of the Ephesians presents two great subjects as to the Church: First, the coming glory of the Church, a thing which is secured; it will enjoy the glory in the heavenly places with its Head. In spirit, it is seated there in Him. Secondly, Besides that, it is the "habitation of God through the Spirit" here below.

Two things flow from that: unity in humility and the Spirit of peace; grace given to every one according to the measure of the gift of Christ. But the gifts here given, the apostle, the prophet, the evangelist, the pastor, and teacher, have all for object the formation, establishment, and edification of the body. And we must here observe that it is functions or permanent gifts that are given; it is a pastor, it is an evangelist. It is not a gift of such a character given to an individual thus gifted by Christ ascended on high. The pastor himself, the apostle himself, is the gift. Christ received the gift having ascended up on high, and He manifests it in the function of the individual; and the gift is here connected with continual service, and is not merely a manifestation of power. In 1 Corinthians 12 it is rather power given for service, power which might be used through vanity, as it really happened. Here the member serves by the gift, which only acts in the blessing of the body.

I have spoken on this more fully elsewhere, and I only recall the great principle for the aggregate.

In Romans 12 the Spirit of God presents the gifts (charismata), that those who possess them may use them humbly, confining themselves to what they possess, and may be occupied with that. 1 Peter 4 speaks of them, that each one may use them in giving all the glory to God, acknowledging that all came from Him. As to this passage (1 Peter 4), I am agreed with Mr. Wolff that it is a question of a gift; and the translation, "according to the oracles" is not the word of God, but a sense people chose to give it. "If any man speak [let him speak] as [announcing] God's oracles." But it is of no use saying, as Mr. Wolff does, that this only applies to gifts, and not to that which one now says in the Church. The answer is easy. This passage forbids speaking in any other way, and forbids it with this object, "that God in all things may be glorified." The apostle does not allow that anyone should speak without ascribing the thing to God; and without speaking as announcing the words of God. If any one speak, let him speak thus.

298 It would be a singular commentary on this passage, to say, This means that, if any one speak by the Spirit, then he must speak by the Spirit: otherwise he may speak as much as he likes, without troubling himself about it; inasmuch as a man is a minister, he may speak without thus ascribing all to God.

In 1 Corinthians 12 we have therefore the presence of the Holy Ghost as one in the Church, then the operation of God, then the gifts as manifestation of the Spirit. In Ephesians 4 we have the gifts which Christ received, which are being exercised in the edification of the body. In Romans 12 we have all that is done for good in Christians service treated as gift. Lastly, 1 Peter 4 we have the obligation of thus ascribing all to God.

Now God may withdraw as He pleases gifts which He distributes as He pleases (that is, some of those which are only a testimony rendered to the Church before the world); but Christ nourishes the Church according to His faithfulness, and this rests on another basis. This also may be weakened if the Holy Ghost is grieved. Nevertheless, the Holy Ghost Himself remains in the Church for ever.

And this calls forth an important remark as to this question, whether the evil is without remedy. All the strength and energy of the Church being derived from the presence of the Holy Ghost, the comparison of what the manifestation of the Holy Ghost was at the beginning, and the forgetting of His presence now, will lead us to feel all that is humbling in our state, and to understand the sentence of God unto cutting off, and not unto restoration. But the thought that the Holy Ghost abides for ever with the Church gives us an unlimited source of hope — that God will do all that is necessary for the blessing of the Church in the state where it is. And as it is the presence of God Himself, one can put no limit to what He could do. But what He will do will be according to our need and our state, and not as though He Himself ignored the state which the presence of His Spirit leads to feel, as though nothing had happened. Hence I fully believe in the cutting off of the dispensation, because of the failure of the Church; but I put no limit to what God, meanwhile, may do in grace towards believers. Only, it will be according to the truth, as to their state, and according to the faith which recognizes that.

299 I shall follow briefly Mr. Wolff's remarks. Page 70, 1°. It is Mr. Wolff who mistakes; charismata and pneumatika are not used exclusively for spiritual gifts, as we have shewn in quoting the passages where those words are found. The versions are not mistaken. The expression "the gift of the Holy Ghost" is only found once in the Bible, and it simply means the Holy Ghost given. The expression, "the Holy Ghost which is given" is found elsewhere; but it equally refers to the idea of the presence of the Holy Ghost. For instance, "He therefore that despiseth [his brother], despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit." And, "Hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us. Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are of God," 1 John 3 and 4. We see evidently that it is a question here of the Holy Ghost as present, from whom one ought to distinguish the evil spirits which acted in the false prophets.

If I consult Mr. Wolff, he applies the thing referred to in the passage (namely, what was given at Pentecost) to miraculous gifts. All this paragraph therefore is false; it is Mr. Wolff who confounds the gift and the gifts.

Page 70, 2°. Be it so: three quarters of the gifts are lost; but then how can it be said that all the blessing remains to the dispensation?

Page 70, 3°. I do not say that some gifts are miraculous and others not; but the word distinguishes between gifts which were the signs of power to the world, and the gifts which were for the edification of the Church; and also, between the gifts that laid the foundation and those that built upon it. Mr. Wolff admits it. That is the reason why some may subsist, and others not. For the rest, the word calls gift (charisma) all that in which the Holy Ghost acts in blessing in the Church. This is what Mr. Wolff has not observed at all.

300 Page 71, 4°. I again repeat, if that beauty, that diversity, that harmony, as members of a body, are entirely lost, how is it that we are not in a state of failure and ruin? How can one conceive this?

Page 71, 5°. I find a variety of gifts now very evident, although it is not a variety such as existed at the beginning. The result of Mr. Wolff's system having prevailed practically in the Church is, that all the gifts are confounded and their distinction lost; but it is very easy for a spiritual man to distinguish between a man who has a gift for teaching, and another who has a gift for exhortation, or another who has a gift of evangelist. For the rest, the system in vogue hinders the development of gifts. This is not surprising, when men, "having studied, all preach without gift" (p. 94).

Page 71, 6°. It is not said that the disciples in Samaria received gifts besides the gift of the Holy Ghost. It is said that they had been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, but as yet the Holy Ghost "was fallen upon none of them." Nothing more positive or clearer. That the Holy Ghost acted in their heart to produce faith there by the revelation of Jesus, I do not deny; but in the word of God this is never called the gift of the Holy Ghost. Not a word is said about receiving the Holy Ghost till after having believed; the contrary is expressly stated.

Page 72, 7°. That the gifts were the manifestation of the Holy Ghost, of this gift of the Holy Ghost, is perfectly true. This being acknowledged, the word of God calls gifts of the Holy Ghost, not only signs of power, but according to the godliness and truth which grace produces, every instrumentality of blessing which was found in the Church: exhortation, the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge; 1 Cor. 12; Rom. 12. What has given rise to all the difficulties on the subject is, the want of godliness, which does not own the only source of all these graces.

Page 72, 8° and page 73, 14°. I repudiate the neological tinge of Neander. On the other hand, Mr. Wolff mistakes if he thinks there is no connection between the gifts conferred and the vessel which contains them. The tone of his fourteenth paragraph is far from proper. When the man who left his house gave gifts to his servants (Matt. 25), he gave gifts to every man according to his several ability. God prepares the vessel as well as places the gift in it; Acts 9:15; Gal. 1. Paul was "a chosen vessel"; he was set apart from his mother's womb; but he had not yet received the gift.

301 Page 72, 9°. This requires no remark; the confusion which is found there having been already pointed out, namely, that Mr. Wolff speaks as if there were two gifts of the Holy Ghost.

Page 72, 10°. Faith indicates a special gift, that special energy of faith which is not found in all. I see nothing that limits it to the first ages. There are persons endowed with much more faith than others; 1 Cor. 14:15-16. He speaks of foreign tongues which served as signs to unbelievers (v. 22), signs which are distinguished from that which was for the edification of believers.

Page 73, 11°. What do these words mean: "The Holy Ghost was miraculous enough?" Can one say that God is miraculous — that a Person of the Trinity is miraculous? That the Spirit whom they had received did act in a miraculous way, and that this was distinct in many respects from His sanctifying action, I do not deny; but it was the same Spirit who acted, though in a different way. Only one must distinguish between the new nature, and the Holy Ghost who produces it and acts in it. The union is intimate; but they can be spoken of separately, for the Spirit is God. I can say, "He that is joined unto the Lord is one Spirit." I can say, "The Spirit … beareth witness with our spirit." I can say, "He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit," and add, "because he maketh intercession for the saints according to God."

The new nature is not God; it worships God. But God has intimately united Himself to it by the Holy Ghost: it abides in God, and God in it. But the most miraculous gifts, when God Himself was speaking, as in the case of prophecy, were subject to the order of God in the Church, because they were entrusted to the responsibility of man, and acted in man as servant of Christ.

Page 73, 12°. I think that this effect has often been reproduced more or less perceptibly.

Page 73, 13°. I am perfectly agreed that if a man speaks, he ought to speak as announcing the oracles of God; 1 Peter 4. Hence, I am very much blamed for having asserted the truth as to that passage. But the thing being thus, it is absolutely necessary that Mr. Wolff's ministers without gifts should be silent, because the apostle says, "If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God … that God in all things may be glorified." Not the least idea that one might be allowed to speak otherwise, for then God would not be glorified. The ministry Mr. Wolff proposes to us is precisely the thing condemned by this passage.

302 Page 73, 15°. True, the centurion and his friends received the Holy Ghost as the apostles did at Pentecost, but it is the only gift of the Holy Ghost which they received. They did not receive another sanctifying Spirit; the Holy Ghost had produced faith. I believe it; but they did not receive, either before or after, the Holy Ghost in another way.

Page 73, 16° and page 74, 17°. In general, I agree with these two paragraphs; but the Holy Ghost who was given has not left the Church — I mean the Holy Ghost given on the day of Pentecost. Here Mr. Wolff confounds the gifts and the gift. That the extraordinary administration of these things by the hands of the apostles has ceased, I do not deny. That the order, the testimony, the power of the Church in the world, are weakened by it, and have by degrees become as it were destroyed, I confess with humiliation. But the Holy Ghost who was given on the day of Pentecost, of which these things were only an extension — the Holy Ghost abides. He is sovereign, He is mighty; and the gifts for edification have not ceased. If the gifts which were signs have disappeared with the apostolic age, the testimony of the Church to the world, in its power and its unity, has also by degrees disappeared with these manifestations of the Holy Ghost.

Page 74, 18°. Mr. Wolff, as we have already remarked, is completely mistaken; the discerning of spirits was not regulating. "Let the other judge," it is said (1 Cor. 14:29), when gifts were exercised. The rules for the exercise of gifts are given in this passage; and there is no question of the gift of discerning of spirits: a responsibility moreover which is attached to every Christian (1 John 4), although there are no doubt persons specially gifted for that.

Page 74, 19°. This is an extraordinary confusion. First, women had gifts as men had; certain gifts, according to the express promise of God by the mouth of Joel; but the exercise of gifts was regulated, for men and for women, by the Holy Ghost, who had given them, and who had the right to regulate the use of that which He had entrusted; this He has done through the authority of Paul.

303 Page 74, 20°. The bishop was only a charge; but, as a quality of a bishop, a gift (charisma) is required — that of being "apt to teach"; perhaps one might add that of pastor. But the qualities of bishops do not in any way affect the question of gifts, which were found, according to the writer himself, by the side of ministry.

Page 75, 21° and 22°. Mr. Wolff here arranges things in a very convenient way, provided one considers the power of the Holy Ghost as being of no importance in the Church — that power which, for instance, made men to fall down on their faces, and confess that God was there — a power which, according to Mr. Wolff, has entirely ceased. Prophecy which was "to edification and exhortation and comfort" is lost, according to Mr. Wolff; this, according to him, explains everything else.

The loss of all that matters nothing; tongues even — so remarkable a sign by which God acted on those outside, for their conversion, and for the establishment of Christianity in the world, all that is lost. No matter, according to Mr. Wolff. What a distressing and heartless system! — this system which explains everything, and feels nothing! One half of Christendom invaded by Islamism, the other by popery! no matter. Protestantism declining, and in most infidel; the gifts all lost: it is all one. For, according to Mr. Wolff, if there are a few believers, as in the Jewish dispensation, all the blessing remains to the Church. That the sovereign goodness of God has given to us in His written word a sure and complete revelation of His thoughts is precious beyond all that man could say or be able to say. And in the failure and ruin of everything as to power manifested in the Church, this has a value and a wisdom to which an adoring sense of that goodness is the only true response. This is the chain which, by the truth, links us to Him; this is beyond all price — God has revealed Himself therein. That this word is the only guide, as a written rule; this is a thing to which we cannot too firmly cleave; this it is that has the authority of God. Nothing can be added to it, nor taken from it. But does this touch the effects of the power of the Holy Ghost? Far from it; we need the Holy Ghost to understand even, and to use, that word. It is the sword of the Spirit to reach the heart. If gifts only consisted in revelation, and in signs to prove it, there would be something to say; but it is not so. All that was done in the Church, was, as we have seen, by the Holy Ghost: and the presence of the Holy Ghost had in nowise for its only object the confirmation of revelation. He was to abide for ever, and, by the gifts of teaching, of exhortation, of wisdom, of knowledge, to edify and comfort the Church. For the rest, in the word it is never said that the gifts confirmed the canon of Scripture; they confirmed the word spoken by the mouth of those whom Christ had sent. Miracles are not attached to Luke, to Mark, to the Acts, nor declared to be the means of recognizing the inspiration of any book whatever. The books of the holy Scriptures have not had this outward confirmation. If it be otherwise, let it be shewn. That the doctrine which is found there was confirmed, when it was preached viva voce, this I acknowledge. The warrant for the inspiration of Scripture does not therefore rest on gifts, whether in apostolic times, or now. That the authors were inspired, I fully acknowledge. That the Holy Ghost is the author of it every Christian believes; but I do not know where that infinitely precious work of the Spirit is called the exercise of a gift. The epistles may, in part, be considered as the exercise of the apostolic gift perhaps: but in general the inspiration of the written word, that work of the Holy Ghost which guards the pen and the thought of the writer, is a special work. Hence we must not confound revelation with the action of the Holy Ghost in the gifts. Sometimes the Holy Ghost spoke in the way of revelation; but His action for the most part was a different thing from that; it consisted in exhortation, teaching, wisdom, knowledge — things which did not require fresh revelations. Besides, the Holy Ghost never contends with Himself. To those who have received the holy Scriptures as inspired, a spirit which would refuse to submit itself to the written word, would by that very thing be proved to be an evil spirit; and all that it would seek to add would, by the help of the Holy Ghost, be proved by the word to be false, because the word is perfect. This was even true of Christianity in the face of the Old Testament: it rested upon the written word, and presented what had come to pass as the fulfilment of what was foretold, teaching none other things than those which Moses, the law, and the prophets had said, and approving those who (if it was an apostle who preached) "searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." And the Lord Jesus Himself preferred the authority of the written word, as an instrument, to His own words: "But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" But the exercise of gifts, making use of the word, explains it, applies it to the soul, exhorts, speaks with wisdom, and only recognizes the revelation by resting upon it: but they are equally real gifts of the Holy Ghost.

305 If, as Mr. Wolff leads one to suppose, the New Testament becomes useless through the gifts which explain and use it, how much more would the Old become so through the apostolic gifts.

Page 76, 23°. It is no question of being on the level of, or above, the word. The same Holy Ghost, who gave the word as the whole truth to the Church, uses and applies it by means of gifts which He gives Himself.

Page 76, 23°. Agreed. The minister must declare his mind, and say that all his hope for his ministry is in the absence of all gifts. If the Holy Ghost acts, he must abdicate his charge. But what an avowal! Does this ministerial system banish shame, as it banishes the Holy Ghost? At least let us take account of the avowal, that the system of a clergy, which hides itself under the name of ministry, that what the party calls the ministry, can only subsist by denying absolutely every gift of the Holy Ghost.

That the pastor has received no authority for regulating or for restricting the gifts of the Holy Ghost, is only confusion, supposing the gifts to exist; and if they do not exist, there is no need of regulating them. Supposing they exist, they are all regulated beforehand in the word: witness 1 Corinthians 14 for instance. When Mr. Wolff says, speaking of the pastor, that "if he reserves to himself a worship where he alone speaks, he is a usurper," it is merely throwing dust in people's eyes. I understand quite well that Mr. Wolff wishes that — denying gifts — the pastor who has none should reserve to himself all that he is pleased to attribute to himself. What is merely from man, man can regulate; but it is very simple, that in the exercise of his gift everyone is free save the discipline according to the word. In the case of all being assembled, the word has regulated the course to be followed: if anyone has received a gift, he is responsible to Christ for the exercise of that gift; and responsibility is always individual. If, as an evangelist, I go out to preach by myself, or if two go together, they do not encroach on the rights of anybody. If I gather people who come for that purpose, and teach them in the exercise of my gift, I encroach on the rights of no one: every one is free to do the same. If any one does it in a spirit of schism, outside the unity of the Church, it is an evil which changes nothing as to the principle. If when brethren are assembled — all for the common service, I arrogate everything to myself, then indeed I do encroach on the rights of the Holy Ghost; but in the case of the individual exercise of my gift, I am only trading with the talent I have received, and that is what each should do on his own account, and he owes it to Christ.

306 I admit that teaching is a gift. I admit also that ruling, or presiding, as some versions translate, is a gift; but in the word this is never applied to an assembly, as would appear to be the case, if we kept to the French version generally used. They are the gifts (charismata) according to Romans 12. That the administration of the sacraments is a gift, this is a reverie of Mr. Wolff's. I have already remarked that Mr. Wolff is entirely ignorant of the principles of the Quakers. They have their elders who are in charge, and besides that a ministry. There are also some among them who exercise a gift before being yet recognized as ministers.



It is remarkable enough that the writer has been unable to quote a single passage of the word of God to establish that the administration of the sacraments must be performed by the ministry. Taking away from it gifts, and attributing to it the right of taking possession of the outward forms — these do very well together: but it is very singular that it never entered the mind of the apostle to propose, as a remedy, the system of the writer. Very far from this, in an epistle which formally treats the subject of the Lord's Supper, the Holy Ghost does not give the slightest hint that the ministry presides; but quite the contrary. The state of things which is described there excludes all idea of such order; and never, in applying a remedy for it, does the idea present itself of making the minister preside: for it is singular that, in the epistle to the Corinthians, where the interior of the administration of a church is given to us, no mention is ever made of the elders. There were some, perhaps; but if there were, the Holy Ghost passes over it, authorizing us to act even when there are none. I exhort those brethren who are occupied with this to weigh such a fact taken from the epistle to the Corinthians.

307 As to the quotation given by Mr. Wolff of Acts 6:1-4, it is so much outside the subject that I need not dwell upon it. The man who can mistake the daily administration of help to widows for the Lord's Supper may very well suppose all he likes; and in Mr. Wolff's interpretation, Acts 6:1-4, supposes that the apostles had abandoned the administration of the table of the Lord as being of slight importance, and that the deacons, and not the elders, are to preside there. What is said in paragraph 4° of page 81, is therefore unworthy of an answer. To say that the word of God which accompanies the outward act is more important than the Supper itself is to exalt a discourse without gifts above the remembrance of Jesus instituted by Himself. Moreover, where did the writer find this — "the word of God which accompanies the sacrament"? Besides, it is very certain that in the primitive Church there was nobody established to speak a word; for the prophets spoke as God led them, according to the rules given in 1 Corinthians 14. For an apostle to break the bread, when he was present (Acts 20:11), was a very natural thing, and appears to me very suitable; but I do not see that this proves that the ministry had the exclusive right so to do.

As to baptism, the apostle expressly says that the Lord had not sent him to baptize. It is very certain that Acts 10:48 is very badly rendered by "He took measures," etc., and that Acts 17:26, where it is said that God had determined certain things, proves the inaccuracy of such a way of translating. The reader who does not know Greek may consult Matthew 1:24; ch. 21:6; Luke 5:14 — "Moses commanded"; Matthew 8:4; Mark 1:44; Acts 10:33 — passages which, with the two quoted here, are the only passages where this word (which signifies "to command") is found in the New Testament.

308 In result, Mr. Wolff, who does not produce a single passage to prove that the ministry did administer the sacraments, admits that simple believers may do it in cases of necessity. We see that what existed at Corinth excludes the idea of such a custom; and when there was a state of disorder, when the opportunity presented itself of reminding them in what order did consist, or of establishing order if it had not yet been done; and if such order as this would have been the remedy according to God, not a syllable about it is said by the apostle — by the word, but means altogether different are used to remove the scandal. We find that, to support his system he is obliged to confound with the Lord's Supper the administration of help intended for the widows. A cause which is thus maintained is not worth much. That in a large assembly the Supper be administered by brethren who enjoy the consideration of all, by an apostle when there was one, is just what suits order; and I have no fault to find with such an ordinance. There is not one expression in the word of God to lead one to suppose that there was any need of a minister for the Supper or for baptism — we even see the contrary — and now I use the word 'ministry' in the sense of the pamphlet, and in whatever sense people may like to use it.



If Mr. Wolff is overthrowing the system which Calvin and others find in the word, that is a question which concerns those who build upon it; but — I must say so — I find a thorough difference in the way in which Calvin and Mr. Wolff respect the word. As to the translation of 1 Timothy 5:17, which he pretends is false, I am bold to say it is not false at all. I have examined twenty-two passages of the word of God where the Greek word kopiao is found, and the result of this examination is, that the translation, in my eyes, is very good. The word is used in two ways: to suffer from the effects of labour, and simply to labour. Wahl's Lexicon (the most accurate I know for the word of God) does not even present the sense chosen by Mr. Wolff.

In Galatians 6:6 Mr. Wolff sees an elder who receives payment! But there is not a word in it about elders or a payment properly so called. I cannot conceive the desire of debasing ministry which is constantly found in this pamphlet. A minister who is paid without gift — such is the idea Mr. Wolff forms to himself of ministry. It appears to me very sad.

309 The apostle asks for liberality "in all good things" towards those who teach: this is a precious thing. But why seek to attach an idea of payment, and to destroy that of love, and of honour, of attachment, and of affection? Mr. Wolff has not been bold enough to translate the Greek word by "salary"; he has translated it by "honour"; and I think, with Calvin, Luther, and the English translators, that he is right.

This is incontestable — that the apostle meant that when it was a question of choosing a bishop, one should be chosen who was "apt to teach." To say that there were no other bishops, is that which 1 Timothy 5:17 leads us to doubt.

It is singular that Mr. Wolff dares to say that the administrative functions are not mentioned; for the apostle speaks of the government of the family by the bishop as a sign of certain suitable qualities.



We have seen that, in the passage, Acts 13:1-3, it is a question of the apostles and of the one who said of his apostleship "not of men, neither by man," and who had already laboured for a long time before this. We have also seen that they preached and evangelized without any mission from man; so that Mr. Wolff's assertions are absolutely false. It is rather too strong to quote Acts 13 in order to shew what an evangelist was, and what an apostle was not.

The quotation from 2 Corinthians 8:23 is inconceivable. Paul speaks of Titus, but not at all as a messenger of the churches, and it was only a question of a collection. The apostle refused to take the money without having with him some brethren from the churches, that the ministry of the word might not be suspected even in this respect. (See chapters 9:5; 8:19-21)

Barnabas indeed was sent to Antioch by the church in Jerusalem — the special position of which we have seen, all the apostles being there. But he was not sent there as an evangelist; it was to visit on the part of that church — motherchurch and metropolitan (for it was such), the believers who had already been brought to the knowledge of the Lord by the means of those who had preached without having been sent by anything except persecution. When he came, and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and exhorted them to remain firm; and other persons were added. Thus, the first church of the Gentiles and the church in Jerusalem — preeminently the church where everything had begun — were identified. Barnabas acted according to his gift; and, using his liberty, he brings Paul there. There was not that jealousy which speaks of its field. The church in Jerusalem sends Barnabas where others had laboured, and Barnabas feels himself most happy to find Paul. They had all but one object: Christ and the good of souls. But as to the mission of Barnabas, it is clear he was not sent as an evangelist, for he was sent to Christians.

310 As to schoolmasters, they are most useful in their place; but everything in this pamphlet has its source in the things which are done, and with the desire of upholding them whatever they may be. Except this, it is very evident that the schoolmasters have no connection with the subject we are treating. I suppose that Mr. Wolff will not prevent a schoolmaster from opening a school on his own account: in doing so, I do not think he would place himself on a level with apostleship, although he was not sent by men.



As to that clerical usurpation of which Mr. Wolff speaks, I have not much to say about it. When one man will be minister, and demands that every other labourer should be subject to him; when he has been named according to a system which is not of God, when he demands from the other labourers, in the same field, a subjection which the apostles did not demand, and when he does this because an authority which God does not own as regards the affairs of His Church, has appointed and established him, then there is clerical usurpation. Besides, I deny that the minister is called in Scripture, elder, bishop, pastor, leader; and I ask for a passage which shews the contrary. Mr. Wolff produces none.

311 It is not honest to quote Ignatius; because, if Mr. Wolff has read him, he must know that Ignatius uses the word 'bishop' in quite a different sense, and says that one ought to obey the bishop as if it were obeying God; the elders, as if it were Christ; and the deacons, as if it were the college of apostles.

I acknowledge, that in general, things ought to be done under the direction of those who lead, in order that everything may go on in unity and for the good of all.



I do not feel the need of answering the chapter on studies; the man who denies gifts, and sees nothing but man in ministry, must naturally cling to this.

God can use learned men or ignorant men. He uses learning as he uses money — the man who seeks it will find his soul dried up, just like the man who seeks to get rich. God, moreover, chooses the foolish and weak things of this world to bring to nought the wise and mighty things. I do not think that the pursuit of learning by a man already called to the ministry will help him in his career. He that is not called, cannot study for the ministry; but all these reasonings flow from this: taking no account of the presence and of the importance of the operation of the Holy Ghost. Moreover, a student, a candidate, evidently bears no resemblance to the bishop described to us by the apostle. The emulation of a young man who studies Greek and theology has hardly the imprint of those qualities required by the Spirit of God for elders. In fine, according to this system, one must at all events have a ministry, and if one cannot find competent men, incompetent men must be appointed — for a ministry is needed.



I am not anxious to take up the history of sects. The Papists might add to the list, and prove that protestants, with a ministry, are fallen into socinianism, neology, and all kinds of divisions and errors.

312 But if those who had no ministry — which moreover was not the case in some of the examples presented by Mr. Wolff — have disappeared, those who have one, on the other hand, have remained, and remain to this day; and for centuries the established ministers have taught the mass of the people errors, heresies, superstitions, blasphemies, unbelief, self-righteousness, and with all their might have kept the mass of the people far from God. Blessed indeed if any one, armed for martyrdom, dared to go out, though unsent by man, and seek to deliver those souls from under the ministry which ruined them! I do not think that the supporters of ministry without gifts gain much by comparing the evil done by those who reject a ministry from man, with the evil done by those who will have it and who adopt it. Where the Spirit of God acts, there will be good; where He does not act, all possible ecclesiastical arrangement will not prevent the invasion of the evil.

Mr. Wolff admits that the Montanists, who received a ministry, introduced clerical despotism and several errors of doctrine. The brethren of Rhynsburgh separated because of a point of doctrine.

I have already remarked that Mr. Wolff is completely mistaken about Quakers. Gurney himself is an innovator among Quakers, and judged as such by the "Conservatives" — an epithet which indicates the old Quakers. Here is the doctrine of the Quakers: —

The Holy Ghost is in every man without exception. If they listen to His voice, they are justified by degrees. The Quakers reject justification by faith; a great number even reject the resurrection of the body. They reject the sacraments. They have a recognized ministry, and elders. They prefer their inward light to the written word: they hold absolutely that the Scriptures are not to be called the word of God, and only receive, as coming from God, that portion which may have been applied to them. There has lately been a revival among them, and several have sounder views; several even have left the society. The elders are appointed and established; they have an elevated seat, facing all the others; and nowhere else is a more complete authority exercised. The members of the flocks have an extraordinary fear of them. In many respects there is not more authority among the Roman Catholics themselves. As to practical customs, the Quakers have several things which are very estimable. I do not think I have represented their system falsely; for I have known, loved, and respected very sincerely, several from among them.

313 It would be difficult to find between two bodies a more complete contrast than between the Quakers and those called "Plymouth Brethren," if one except the fact that they believe that ministry is of the Holy Ghost; but even in this they act altogether differently.

When Mr. Wolff takes on him to say that the brethren have introduced modifications in the sacraments, he would have done better to say what they are: this he has not dared to do. The accusation of having done so, without even pointing out in what they have done it, simply proves ill will towards them.


We are come to the conclusion — deeply grieved, for my own part, to see such a production issuing from the hands of a young man I love. The skill I do not deny; but the spirit which reigns in it, the way in which the word is used there to serve a system, have produced an exceedingly painful effect. Neither have I any doubt that a serious contest is engaged on the subject of ministry. As to the fact of having for avowed enemies those who hold those opinions — full of unbelief and of contempt for the word — which this pamphlet fully brings to light, it has quite another effect from frightening or deterring me. It is a contest, on one side, between respect for the word, faith that owns the Holy Ghost, and the desire that ministry be free and powerful for God, while freely serving men; and, on the other, the making ministry to depend upon men, and of attaching to it (without there being gifts) an authority as from God, an authority such as to give the right of excluding all possibility of the action of the Holy Ghost.

Mr. Wolff avows it, and declares that, if there is a single gift, his ministry can no longer subsist. My desire is that each soul would reflect as to the position in which such a doctrine places the Church and Christendom.