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SERM. promised should follow those that believed, was this," They shall speak with new tongues;" and St. Paul, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, mentions "diversity of "tongues," among the gifts bestowed on the church. Others have thought that the apostles spoke various languages at the same time, and that a Jew heard them speaking in the Jewish, a Mede in the Median, and a Parthian in the Parthian language, all at once; but this is scarcely, if at all, possible, and the supposition is quite unnecessary: it was sufficient for the purpose, if the apostles were able, when they wanted to teach the truths of Christianity to any person, to speak to him in his own tongue. This they were enabled to do in a moment, and it is the greatest of all miracles: it is of a nature which was never experienced before the times of the first publishing of Christianity, nor has it ever been heard of since; nor can we imagine any which would
have a greater effect in exciting wonder SERM. and admiration at the divine power and goodness. Our Saviour appears to have reckoned this the greatest of miracles, and therefore to have reserved it for an instance of the power with which he was endued after his ascension to the right hand of God: the declaration and promise, made to his apostles a little before his departure from them, seems to allude to it
Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that "believeth on me, the works that I do "shall he do also; and greater works "than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father." And what could these greater works be? Our Saviour had made the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the lame to walk; he had fed thousands with a few loaves and fishes; he had stilled the raging of the seas and winds with a word; he had cast out devils; he had raised the dead. Now what miracle could possibly be greater
SER M. greater than these? even that which we are now considering-" unlearned men, "who before knew no tongue but their own, being able in a moment to speak fluently all the different languages of "the earth." Unless by greater works our Saviour meant this, what did he mean? what else is there that himself did not do, which was done by his apostles? This we are never told that he did, which if it had been so, we certainly should have been; but this he conferred on his disciples: it was the first sensible effect of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon them, after that he was gone to his Father. If we consider the matter, we shall perceive, likewise, that in this miracle deceit or imposition was impossible: the apostles were well known at Jerusalem (where it happened) to be unlearned men, sprung from low parents, and themselves brought up to low employments; they never could have had the lei
sure or the means of studying these va- SERM. rious languages of which they now all at once appeared to be such complete masters: if they had been strangers newly arrived from some distant part of the world, it might have been said that they had attained this proficiency in languages by hard study, but as they had always been on the spot, it is evident that this wonderful power must have been supernaturally conferred upon them. Add to this, that the Jews were very great enemies to them; and if it had been possible to have proved any imposition upon them, they would have been glad enough to have done it. Add, also, that the miracle was publicly wrought at the time, before great multitudes of various nations, and that it continued afterwards still to be wrought during the respective lives of the apostles; wherever they travelled, they were able to preach the gospel in the languages of the people amongst
SERM. amongst whom they were. And though it may be said that these nations, which were strangers to them, had not such clear proof that their ability of speaking various languages was given them from above, as their own countrymen had, yet they had certainly sufficient proof to induce them to believe it. The apostles asserted that the gift of tongues was supernatural; and they had a right to be credited, because the other miracles which they performed, such as the cure of diseases, and the raising of the dead, were as much out of the course of nature as this to which they pretended: the one, therefore, was a confirmation of the other.
This miracle, immediately on the spot and at the time, was followed by the most wonderful effects; so glaring was the evidence which it offered in favour of the truth of Christianity, that, after the sermon which St. Peter preached on the occasion,