King's Business - 1913-10



true. It is an infallible criterion. But several conditions, implied in the con­ text, need to be most carefully ob­ served. (1) Scripture affords no ground, so far as I am, aware, for sup­ posing the test to be efficacious in un­ converted hands. The test, like the invocation of our Lord’s name (Mark 9:39), is not a magical spell which anyone may use (Acts 19:13- 16), but a solemn charge entrusted to fhe people of God to safeguard the flock of God. (2) It is a test for the spirit, not the prophet: therefore it is never to be applied unless the mir­ aculous is obviously present: and the spirit must be compelled to answer —■[ not the prophet. We are dealing with a subtle and unscrupulous fo«. (3) The spontaneous doctrinal system of a spirit '(as in Acts 16:17) is no cri­ terion; a seducing spirit can be as orthodox in general profession as a human hypocrite: only a confession in response to this direct challenge can elicit his reahorigin. John does.not say^—Believe all spirits, as though the supernatural were always Divine: nor —Believe no spirit, as though miracu­ lous Communications from God are now impossible; but—“Believe not every spirit,” for a spirit, either good or bad, may manifest himself at any moment. Moreover, the test is found to work. Supernatural tongues broke ou t , eighty years ago, in a clergyman’s family in Gloucestershire; a superhu­ man utterance, through a child of seven, ruled the house as with the voice of God. Suspicion, at last arose in the clergyman’s mind, and the curate suggested to the rector the application of the test. “Try not the spirits!” the boy immediately cried, “try not the spirits!” Solemnly the spirit, whose protest was wisely dis­ regarded, was asked if Jesus Christ had come in the flesh, and as prompt­ ly denied it; and on the clergyman silencing it, the spirit departed, and

never returned. Another concrete case may b.e given. Some years ago, in Norwich, a young man informed a godly man known to. me that in a Spiritualistic seance he had got into communication with his grandmother. “Your grandmother, whom I knew so well, was a lovely character and a holy woman,” the old man answered; “my counsel is that you go back and ask her, Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh ?” A few days after the young man, unutterably horrified, returned, saying: “The spirit’s immediate answer was ‘No,’ followed by a tor­ rent of blasphemy; it is a spirit from hell!” I may add my own experience. Some twenty years ago, in conjunc­ tion with one now an Anglican canon, and another a China Inland missionary, several undergraduates applied the test in my own rooms at Cambridge. “Are you willing,” the spirit was asked, when it had become certain that a spirit was present, “to communicate with us on the incarna­ tion of Jesus Christ ?” An emphatic “Yes” was the reply. “Did Jesus Christ come in the flesh?” . The re­ sponse was a still more emphatic “No!” The thrill of that awful dis­ covery will never leave my memory. Thus a babe in Christ can no more be deceived by an honest application of the tests than the maturest saint; because the revealing power is lodged, not in the degree of sanctification of the inquirer, but in the infallibility of the Word: “beloved”—of whatever age, or maturity, or circumstance— “prove the spirits.” The second supreme test for the su­ pernatural appears on the threshold of Paul’s treatise on miraculous gifts,: a test, not for the controlling spirit, but for a man so controlled. (I ap­ pend some obvious inferences in brackets.) “Now concerning spiritual gifts [or, the inspired*], brethren, I ♦“Most modern critics decide in favor of the sense, ‘inspired men.' "—Godett Verge

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