« PreviousContinue »
to be subdued. And all this was to be done by ignorant and contemned fishermen. Destitute of learning as of power, they were to oppose not only the power and learning of the world, but the formidable host of the human passions. With what eager solicitude must they have looked for that Divine Comforter, that Spirit of consolation and of strength, by whom they were to be supported in all their trials, enabled to vanquish their enemies, and to march through the world the triumphant heralds of salvation.
And the Comforter came. That Divine Master, who had afforded them so many proofs of his divine power, whom they had seen burst the bands of corruption, and ascend in majesty and power to the heavenly courts, fulfilled his gracious promise to them. Comforter came.
On the day of Pentecost the
Every circumstance that marked his coming was impressive and significant. "The sudden sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind "," which announced his descent, significantly denoted the nature of his celestial grace; which is free and universal in its extent and effects; and quickening, refreshing, and purifying, yet incomprehensible in its operations, as "the wind which bloweth where it listeth, and yet we cannot tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth "
The "cloven tongues," which sat upon them, denoted the gift of speaking various languages, with which they were endued. These tongues were represented under the appearance of "fire;" a significant emblem of the quickening light, of the penetrating force and power, and of the purifying energy of the gifts and graces of the Holy Ghost, which then descended upon them.
And wonderful were the effects of his descent in respect to the Apostles and to the Church.With respect to the Apostles. They received miraculous gifts. By the gift of tongues, they were enabled without any previous study to speak various languages, and to "declare in the tongues of every nation the wonderful works of God "." By the gift of miracles, they controlled and changed the laws of nature; healed the sick, cured the lepers, and raised the dead; and thus proved that they were commissioned by that almighty Being, who at first gave to nature the laws which he only can change or control. By the gift of prophecy, they foretold things to come; unfolded the changes and the destinies of the kingdom of their Lord; and thus proved that He was with them, before whom the past, the present, and the future, are as one day. By the gift of wisdom and knowledge, they were enabled to discern "the hidden things of God," the mys
Acts ii. 11.
terious and important truths of redemption, and to promulgate them to the world. By the gift of faith, confiding in the power of their Divine Master, they encountered and triumphantly overcame the powers of darkness who opposed the establishment of the kingdom of grace and truth, and brought down every high imagination and every thing that exalted itself against God.
They were thus divinely qualified for the work of converting the world. "God gave the word; and great was the company of them that published it." He arose in the majesty of his strength; and the heralds of salvation, whom he had thus endued with power from on High, beheld his "enemies scattered" before them. "Kings with their armies were discomfited *.' The cross of their Master triumphed over the pride, the prejudices, and the passions of the bigotted Jew, and the proud and sensual Gentile. "The kingdoms of the world became the kingdoms of their Lord "" and Master Jesus Christ.
Brethren, the success that attended the first preaching of the Gospel, affords irrefragable evidence that the Apostles who proclaimed it possessed those miraculous gifts which the festival of this day ascribes to them. The Comforter came. But he came not in a remote corner of the nation; nor in the presence merely of a few
Psalm lxviii. 11.
* Psalm lxviii. 12.
1 Rev. xi, 15.
obscure individuals. Jerusalem, where all the Jews were assembled at the celebration of one of their principal festivals; where indeed there were" dwelling Jews, devout men out of every nation under Heaven "," was the scene of this event. The gift of tongues, to which the Apostles laid claim, if it had been an imposture, must have been detected; and the false pretence would have brought confusion and disgrace on its authors. No, the Apostles were known to be illiterate men. And when "it was noised abroad that they spake with tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance, the multitude came together and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language." "They were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we them speak in our tongues, the wonderful works of God"."
But, independently of all other evidence, the single fact which contemporary historians attest -the universal propagation of a pure and selfdenying religion in a very short period after the death of its author, prove, that they who promulgated it must have been endued with power from on High-that they who thus vanquished the pride, the power, the learning, the
prejudices, and the passions of mankind, must have been armed with supernatural and miraculous gifts.
But, my brethren, the Comforter came not only for the Apostles; but for the Church, and for us its members. "That Spirit of truth°" then descended upon the Church, by whose operations Christ "abides with it for ever?"-not only the source of that authority by which its officers minister in holy things, but of that grace by which its members are governed and sanctified. As the spirit of illuminations; by his powerful but incomprehensible operations, he enlightens us to understand the truths of God's word, and to discern the riches of grace and mercy in Jesus Christ. in Jesus Christ. As the spirit of quickening power; he awakens the slumbering conscience, and excites, in the careless and impenitent, a sense of their guilt and danger, and an earnest solicitude for the things that belong to their eternal peace. As the spirit of sanctification, he purifies our depraved affections, and renews us after the image of him who created us. As the spirit of consolation, this divine "Comforter" refreshes and animates us through every doubt, difficulty, and trial. And as the spirit of power and might, he enables us successfully to engage in our spiritual warfare; to triumph over