King's Business - 1913-10

Tests for the Supernatural By D. M. PANTON N orwich,"England

T HE CHURCH to-day is con­ fronted with an inrush of the supernatural. Tremendous spir­ itual movements are rising in every part of the world: at any moment the individual disciple may be confronted by the miraculous. Consequently it is impossible to avoid a grave dilem­ ma. If we assume that all that is su­ perhuman is Divine, or at least good, we' risk falling into the embrace of Antichrist (2 Thess. 2 :9) : if, on the other hand, we dismiss the supernat­ ural as necessarily evil, we risk con­ demning as Satanic true miracles of God, if such should occur. Involved as we are, whether we will or no, in the last conflicts between Heaven and Hell, the discovery of a criterion that will discriminate Divine from Satanic miracle becomes obviously of supreme importance. Moreover, history has demonstrated the peril. Probably no child of God has ever harboured -a seducing spirit without having first submitted it to some test; yet the wayside of history is strewn with the wreckage of super­ natural seduction. Again and again disciples have vainly relied upon that which is no test —their standing, their holiness, their experience, their invo­ cations of the Blood, etc.—instead of on the only God-given criterion, the applied Word of God. Spirit after spirit has slipped past the imagined tests put by those whom they have subdued with the most monstrous claims. This was the downfall of the Montanist. “I am neither an angel nor an ambassador,” , said the spirit which deceived Montanus, the found­ er of Montanism, “but I the Lord God the Father am present.” This was; the downfall of the Irvingite. “Noth­ ing can discriminate,” said Edward Irving, “between spirits, but the hon­

est and good heart, which discerneth between good and evil.” “No one,” says Mr. Baxter, an Irvingite prophet, after being delivered from the delu­ sion, “ever tried the spirit in me.” This was the downfall of the Spirit­ ualist. To Mr. Stainton Moses, an ex-clergyman, his' familiars, with whom he consorted for over thirty years, said: “We have preached to you a nobler gospel, revealing a di­ viner God than you had previously conceived;” and Dr. Monck, a fambus- medium, was once a Baptist- minister on whom a spirit fell in supernatural power while he was preaching. This was the downfall of the Mormons. “I am Jesus Christ,” said the spirit who wrote the Book of Mormon, “even the Father and the Son.” This was the downfall of the Prince of the Agape- mbne, once an ardent and devoted evangelical clergyman. He asserted at last, under the direction of his con­ trolling spirit whom he mistook for the Holy Ghost: “In me you see Christ in the flesh; by me, and in me, God has redeemed all flesh from death.” It has also been the down­ fall of the City Temple. “I pray to my wife,” said Dr. Parker—uncon­ sciously laying the foundations of the Gnostic apostasy 'of his- successor— “every day. I never come to the work without asking her to come with me.”* Still graver is Mr. R. J. Camp­ bell’s startling confession. “I am con­ scious of someone’s presence in the mysterious' unseen at this moment. Who is it? I have always believed it to be Jesus; it is no vague abstraction, but a definite, living, personal being. I .work under his orders. Am I wrong (in supposing it Jesus) ? If so, I have been deluded into doing a good many things which otherwise •Review of Reviews, Jaj},, 1902.

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