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solemn admonition: “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches !” (Rev. ii. and iii.) It matters not who speaks, or what we hear, if we hear not what the Spirit saith unto the church!
But the Scripture proceeds. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. The suddenness of this sound manifested, as far as it concerned the people, the unexpected nature and manner of it. And the direction from whence it came, even from heaven, testified the Almighty presence in this mysterious revelation. The mightiness of the sound became no unapt representation what sovereign power was in it: and the nature of it, as of a rushing wind, proved what Christ had before taught of the new birth, both of its freeness and of the total abstraction from all human power by which it acted. “The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John iii. 8.) And the filling all the house where they were sitting, shewed how God the Holy Ghost would fill every heart, every faculty of his chosen, with himself. Here was the fulfilment of that illustrious symbol given to the eastern monarch in vision so many ages before, when he saw “ the stone cut out without hands, which became a great mountain, and filled the earth.” (Dan. ii. 34, 35.)
But the relation doth not rest here. ." For there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." These were all so many blessed tokens of the divine baptisms. Cloven tongues, probably, had an allusion to the many and various languages which at once the Lord the Spirit gave them the use of. And marvellous to observe, that as by the rebellion in building the tower of Babel, the church lost the knowledge of the spiritual apprehension of the sacred language of God himself; here the Holy Ghost graciously restored it to those whom he brought under his divine unction. And there was no small significance in the “ fiery appearance” of those cloven tongues. For as the Holy Ghost was prophecied to be a “spirit of judgment and a spirit of burning to Zion,” (Isa. iv. 4.) nothing could more aptly represent these mighty acts that God would accomplish, than when by“ a spirit of judgment ” he would shew the people of God the exceeding sinfulness of their lost estate by nature ; and by“ a spirit of burning” he would melt their souls into a deep contrition, and consume the dross of their carnal affections, to bring every thought into obedience into the captivity of Christ.”
The history proceeds: “And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another : behold! are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born ?" If we count the number of the different nations enumerated, we shall find that there were no less than fifteen. So that to have heard Peter, or John, or James, or indeed either and all of the apostles speaking, not as heretofore the Jews did at those feasts, by means of an interpreter, but in the languages of those they addressed. If they spake to a Parthian, they spake in the Parthian tongue : if to a Mede, in the langague of the Medes : and if to an Elamite, in the language of the Elamites: and all their discourse one and the same, namely, of Jesus Christ. It may be better conceived than can be described, what consternation the strangers coming from those different countries were thrown into, in being thus accosted. And accordingly it is said that such was the effect, that some mocked, others said These men are full of new wine.” Such were the different conclusions then at the preaching of Christ: such they are now : and such will they always be. While some are struck with awe; some mock: while many blaspheme; the heart smitten by grace will
pray. But Peter, together with the eleven, arose to refute the foul calumny. “ These are not drunken (said he) as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour in the day;" (that is, nine o'clock in the morning, the hour of sacrifice, before which no Jew dared to take any refreshment for the body) but said Peter, this is the fulfilment of the prophecies of God, concerning the latter day dispensation; and in proof the apostle quoted a long passage from the prophecy of Joel ïi. 28, &c. and after this he added that divine discourse which the Lord the Spirit gave him to deliver, in pointing to the person and finished salvation of Christ, as the whole sum and substance of prophecy. I stay not to go over Peter's sermon, it would lead too far; you have it before you in this chapter. And
text is the conclusion the Apostle made by way of inference from the whole : “therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear.” And from the sovereign power of the same Almighty Spirit, which gave grace to Peter to preach, communicating grace to many of the hearers
to hear; the effect was that “they were pricked to the heart, and cried out to Peter, and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren! what shall we do?" As if they had said, what think you, ye servants of the Most High God? Is there any possibility for us to be saved? Can we, that have embrued our hands in the blood of Christ, be washed from our sins in his blood ? To which solemn and heart-rending questions, Peter said, Yes! we have command to preach pardon, and mercy, and peace in his blood, among all nations,“ beginning at Jerusalem.” And it is most blessed to read what follows: “then they that gladly received his word were baptized ; and the same day there were added unto them (that is, to the church) about three thousand souls ! Pause, and contemplate the marvellous grace, both in its nature and extent. “Three thousand souls ! not one, ,or two, or fifty, or an hundred, but “three thousand !” as if to shew, from this specimen of the first fruits, in the descent of the Holy Ghost, what a glorious harvest would follow through all ages,
to the end of the world. And if such mighty grace was thus shewn to this host of Jerusalem sinners then, what should prevent this day, yea, this very day, the same Almighty God from a renewal of this pentecost-blessing in all the assemblies of his people? Lord ! if it be thy blessed will, give proof of thine almighty presence, and as in those early ages of the church, let the unction of thy grace accompany the testimony of thy word, and “add to thy church such as should be saved.”
Brethren! what a glorious subject is opened to the church of the living God by the contemplation of the blessed doctrine of this day; we here are called upon to behold, all in one, the gracious joint love of the Holy Three in One, which bear record in heaven, coming down by a visible manifestation of each upon earth, and blessing the people of God, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And what tends to endear such sovereign acts of grace with still higher marks of favour, the redeemed and regenerated child of God hath not only the testimony of these things in the Scriptures of truth; but they are written and engraven in himself, not with pen and ink, but by the Lord the Spirit" in the fleshly tables of the heart.” For when a pentecost-day is fully come to every individual soul of Christ's mystical body, and he is made a new creature in Christ Jesus ; every such child of God can, and doth, know for himself the personal love of God the Father, of God the Son, and of God the Holy Ghost. And by this new life in the soul an holy acquaintance and familiarity is opened with all the persons in the GODHEAD, which keeps alive, from day to day, the divine influence in a life of faith, until faith comes to be swallowed up
in a life of glory. And it is very blessed to have continually preserved this life of fellowship, that we may know each glorious person, in their respective acts, and make them our daily song of rejoicing in this house of our pilgrimage.
But the descent of the Holy Ghost, besides these divine effects, hath another saving influence for our spiritual enjoyment, namely, the realizing all the glorious truths in relation to the person, and in relation to the finished salvation of our Lord Jesus Christ. As the word of Christ becomes life and spirit to our souls, so the testimony of the whole Godhead to the saving interest the church hath, both in his person and righteousness, gives conquest to the soul over sin, death, hell, and the grave. By the Holy Ghost coming down, we know that Christ is gone up; and all those sweet and precious things Jesus spoke of before his departure, concerning the Holy Ghost the Comforter, are fulfilled. So that as the resurrection of Christ