This is taken from the lengthy article by Gary Kukis which can be accessed via his web site at:

We should pause here and see if the historical witness of the church fathers bears out this notion. We also have historical documents which verify that the gift of tongue died out with the early church. From Burdick: Chrysostom (a.d. 347-407) leaves no doubt that in his day tongues were altogether a thing of the past. Writing concerning I Corinthians 12, he said, "This whole place is very obscure; but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur, but now no longer take place." (315) We also have Augustine, a contemporary of Chrysostom living from  a.d. 354 to 430, was equally definite. He said: In the earliest times, "the Holy Ghost fell upon them that believed; and they spake with tongues," which they had not learned, "as the Spirit gave them utterance." These were signs adapted to the time. For there behooved to be that betokening of the Holy Spirit in all tongues, to show that the Gospel of God was to run through all tongues over the whole earth. That thing was done for a betokening, and it passed away.(316)

Augustine wrote other things which indicate the speaking in tongues belonged to the past, but these references also include the laying on of hands on infants for them to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit; as well as the spurious thought that the Holy Spirit could only be gotten from the Catholic Church. These statements open up whole new cans of worms which I do not wish to get into right now. However, they may be found in Glossolalia by Frank Stagg, E. Glenn Hinson, Wayne E. Oates, p. 52. Augustine also wrote: For when the Catholic Church had been diffused and established through the whole world, these miracles were no longer permitted to continue in or time, lest the mind should always seek visible things. In Retractions, he writes: For those that are baptized do not now receive the Spirit on the imposition of hands, so as to speak in the tongues of all the peoples; neither are the sick healed by the shadow of the preachers of Christ falling on them as they pass; and other such things as were then done, are now manifestly ceased.(317)

In any case, the point I am making is that, by their witness, despite any goofy theological positions which they had, that the gift of tongues was long gone by their time. Hinson: The combined evidence of Chrysostom and Augustine would indicate that tongue speaking hd passed off the scene by the late fourth century in both East and West, Chrysostom, at one time a deacon and presbyter in Antioch (381-97) and later Patriarch of Constantinople (397-407), would probably have had direct knowledge if the phenomenon had occurred anywhere in the East. Augustine, who had resided in Rome and Milan several years (383-89) before initiating a long ministry in Hippo (391-430), would have had similar information about its occurrence in the West. Both spoke as if glossolalia had not occurred since very early times.(318)

From that early time period, we only have two or three quotes from early church fathers which indicate that tongues may have been spoken in the second century a.d. In the introduction, we have already covered the few small, scattered movements, none of which left much behind by way of influence. We have quotes from Irenæus, from the end of the second century, for which I do not have an explanation. Then we also have Tertullian, who, in his essay Against Marcion, mentions tongues, visions and ecstasy. There are two reasonable explanations here: (1) he was speaking of the original church in this essay (the time frame is not clear); or, (2) he wrote this after joining the Montanists (which he did). This was a schismatic movement which began in Phrygia which believed in the continued existence of miraculous sign gifts. One of their teachings was that Jerusalem would descend from heaven and land on Phrygia (damn lucky for them to be living there and I expect they bought up a little real estate, as it was certain to appreciate when Jerusalem finally descended).(319)

Thomas Watson wrote in 1660: Sure, there is as much need of ordination now as in Christ's time and in the time of the apostles, there being then extraordinary gifts in the church which are now ceased. (Thomas Watson, The Beatitudes, p. 14). John Owen, in 1679, wrote: Gifts which in their own nature exceed the whole power of all our faculties, that dispensation of the Spirit is long since ceased and where it is now pretended unto by any, it may justly be suspected as an enthusiastic delusion. (John Owen, Works IV, p. 518). Matthew Henry, July 15, 1712: The gift of tongues was one new product of the spirit of prophecy and given for a particular reason, that, the Jewish pale being taken down, all nations might be brought into the church. These and other gifts of prophecy, being a sign, have long since ceased and been laid aside, and we have no encouragement to expect the revival of them; but, on the contrary, are directed to call the scriptures the more sure word of prophecy, more sure than voices from heaven; and to them we are directed to take heed, to search them, and to hold them fast, 2 Peter 1:29. (Matthew Henry, Preface to Vol. IV of his Exposition of OT & NT, vii). Jonathan Edwards, in 1738, writes that these extraordinary sign gifts were given to the early church: in order to the founding and establishing of the Church in the world. But since the canon of the Scripture has been completed, and the Christian Church fully founded and established, these extraordinary gifts have ceased. (Jonathan Edwards, Charity and its Fruits; p. 29). George Whitefield, because of his frequent testimony to the person and power of the Spirit of God, was charged with 'enthusiasm' by some Church leaders and he was credited with believing that apostolic charismata were revived. This belief Whitefield firmly denied; 'I never did pretend to these extraordinary operations of working miracles, or speaking with tongues.' For failing to distinguish the ordinary and extraordinary work of the Spirit and of considering both to have ceased, he blames the Bishop and clergy of Lichfield and Coventry, 'who reckon the indwelling, and inward witnessing of, as also praying and preaching by the Spirit, among the karismata, the miraculous gifts conferred on the primitive church, and which have long since ceased.' (320) Whitefield also had friends who confirmed his distinction between the power of the Holy Spirit which he claimed to have different manifestations from the early church. Joseph Smith, the Congregational pastor in South Caroline, wrote: [George Whitefield]...renounced all pretences to the extraordinary powers and signs of apostleship, peculiar to the age of inspiration, and extinct with them. (Joseph Smith, in his preface to George Whitefield's Sermons and Important Subjects, 1825, xxv).

In the late 1700's, after studying in great depth all of the writings of the church fathers of the first three centuries or so, Conyers Middleton wrote: ...we have no sufficient reason to believe, upon the authority of the primitive fathers, that any such powers were continued to the church, after the days of the Apostles.(321) Apparently, Middleton had a rather harsh tone in this book, which Benjamin Warfield tells us does not destroy its value as a solid piece of investigation. Warfield continues: Middleton's own view...[was] that miracles subsisted until the church had been founded in all the chief cities of the empire, which, he held, had been accomplished in the Apostolic times. It is interesting to observe thus that Middleton reached his correct conclusion as to the time of the cessation of these gifts without the help of a right understanding of the true reason of their cessation with the Apostolic age; [Middleton reaches this conclusion] purely...on empirical grounds. That is, through his careful study of the writings of the church fathers of the first few centuries. His book presents in full the testimony to miraculous working found in the Fathers of the first three centuries. The meagreness and indefiniteness of their witness are left o speak for themselves, with only the help of two closing remarks. The one of these presses the impossibility of believing that the gifts were first withdrawn during the first fifty years of the second century and then restored. The other contrasts the patristic miracles with those of the New Testament, with respect both to their nature and the mode of their working...[he further points out that] no known writer claims to have himself wrought miracles, or names any of his predecessors as having done so. The honor is left to unknown and obscure men, and afterward to the "rotten bones" of saints who while living did no such works. In the fourth section of his book, Middleton examines each and every proposed miracle from outside the Apostolic era, along with every instance that it is mentioned, and questions its credibility. According to Warfield, the book was received with a storm of criticism, reprobation, even abuse. However, Warfield points out, it was not refuted.(322)

Chantry provides us with still more: James Buchanan, 1845: The miraculous gifts of the Spirit have long since been withdrawn. They were used for a temporary purpose. They were the scaffolding with God employed for the erection of a spiritual temple. When it was no longer needed the scaffolding was taken down, but the temple still stands, and is occupied by his indwelling Spirit; for, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you" (I Cor. 3:16). (James Buchanan, Office and Work of the Holy Spirit, p. 34). Charles Haddon Spurgeon, in several sermons, espoused the same position. Although we may not expect and need not desire the miracles which came with the gift of the Holy Spirit, so far as they were physical, yet we may both desire and expect that which was intended and symbolized by them, and we may reckon to see the like spiritual wonders performed among us at this day. (Met. Tab. Pulpit. 1881, Vol. 27, p. 521). Spurgeon again: The works of the Holy Spirit which are at this time vouchsafed to the Church of God are every way as valuable as those earlier miraculous gifts which have departed from us. The work of the Holy Spirit, by which men are quickened from their death in sin, is not inferior to the power which made men speak with tongues. (Met. Tab. Pulpit. 1884, Vol. 30, pp. 386-387). Robert L. Dabney, in 1876, wrote that once the early church had been established, the same necessity for supernatural signs now no longer existed, and God, who is never wasteful in his expedients, withdrew them. Henceforward the church was to conquer the belief of the world by its example and teachings alone, energized by the illumination of the Holy Spirit. Finally, miracles, if they became ordinary, would cease to be miracles, and would be referred by men to customary law. (Robert L. Dabney, 'Prelacy a Blunder', Discussions: Evangelical and Theological, Vol. 2, pp. 236-237). George Smeaton, 1882: The supernatural or extraordinary gifts were temporary, and intended to disappear when the Church should be founded and the inspired canon of Scripture closed; for they were an external proof of an internal inspiration. (George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, p. 51). Abraham Kuyper, 1888: Many of the charismata, given to the apostolic church, are not of service to the church of the present day. (Abraham Kuyper, The Work of the Holy Spirit, English Edition, 1900, p. 182). W. G. T. Shedd, 1888: The supernatural gifts of inspiration and miracles which the apostles possessed were not continued to their ministerial successors, because they were no longer necessary. All the doctrines of Christianity had been revealed to the apostles, and had been delivered to the church in a written form. There was no further need of an infallible inspiration. And the credentials and authority give to the first preachers of Christianity in miraculous acts, did not need continual repetition from age to age. One age of miracles well authenticated is sufficient to establish the divine origin of the gospel. In a human court, an indefinite series of witnesses is not required. "By the mouth of two or three witnesses," the facts are established. The case once decided is not reopened. (W. G. T. Shedd, Dogmatic Theology, Vol. 11, p. 369). Benjamin Warfield, 1918: These gifts were not the possession of the primitive Christian as such; nor for that matter of the Apostolic Church or the Apostolic age for themselves; they were distinctively the authentication of the Apostles. They were part of the credentials of the Apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confined them to distinctively the Apostolic Church and they necessarily passed away with it. (Benjamin Warfield, Counterfeit Miracles, p. 6). Arthur Pink, 1970: As there were offices extraordinary (apostles and prophets) at the beginning of our dispensation, so there were gifts extraordinary; and as successors were not appointed for the former, so a continuance was never intended for the latter. The gifts were dependent upon the officers. We no longer have the apostles with us and therefore the supernatural gifts (the communication of which was an essential part of "the signs of an apostle", II Cor. 12:12) are absent. (Arthur W. Pink, The Holy Spirit, p. 179). As you see from these testimonies, that it has been the position of theologians throughout the ages that the miraculous gifts of the spirit have died out, although the power of the Holy Spirit has not.


315.  Donald Burdick, Tongues--To Speak or Not To Speak; Moody Press, ©1969, pp. 33-34. He took the quote from Chrysostom, "Homilies on the First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians," XXIX.

316.  Donald Burdick, Tongues--To Speak or Not To Speak; Moody Press, ©1969, p. 34. He quoted from Augustine, "Homilies on the First Epistle of John," VI. 10.

317.  Benjamin Warfield; Counterfeit Miracles; The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972 (from a series of lectures delivered at the Columbia Theological Seminary 1917-1918); pp. 40-41. The only actual citation which he provides is Miscellaneous Works; London, 1755, vol. I, p. xli. I should point out that Augustine did believe in miracles during his time, claimed to be a witness to some of them (although he writes of these long, long after the fact); but indicates that they were nothing like the miracles of the first century. Augustine, for all his writings, remains an enigmatic figure in Christian history.

318.  Frank Stagg, E. Glenn Hinson, Wayne E. Oates, Glossolalia; Abingdon Press, ©1967, p. 53.

319.  See Kenneth S. Latourette, A History of Christianity, p. 126.

320.  All of the quotations from this paragraph were taken directly from Walter J. Chantry, Signs of the Apostles; ©1973 by The Banner of Truth Trust, p. 95-101. The minister of the Baptist Church in Aberystwyth, Wales, Geoffrey Thomas, supplied these quotes to him. The first one is George Whitefield, 'Answer to the Bishop of London,' Works, Vol. IV, p. 9 and the second one is 'Second letter to the Bishop of London', Works, Vol. IV, p. 167. The rest are cited in context.

321.  Conyers Middleton, A Free Inquiry; London, 1747. This was quoted by Benjamin Warfield; Counterfeit Miracles; The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972 (from a series of lectures delivered at the Columbia Theological Seminary 1917-1918); p. 28.

322.  Quoted and paraphrased from Benjamin Warfield; Counterfeit Miracles; The Banner of Truth Trust, 1972 (from a series of lectures delivered at the Columbia Theological Seminary 1917-1918); pp. 28-31.

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