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SECT. 11.] Effusion of the Holy Spirit.
11 When the seventh Sabbath from the passover was completely ended, and the next day or first day of the week fully come, that is, fifty days after Christ's resurrection and ten days after his ascension, the apostles, with the hundred and twenty disciples, were all assembled together with one accord, agreeably to their stated practice. * “ And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, sitting upon each of them; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”+
Such is the account given us by the Spirit of inspiration concerning this extraordinary interposition of heaven, and the effects which it produced upon the apostles were certainly of the most stupendous kind. For, it is evident that, a flood of light now broke in upon their minds, as it were instantaneously, instructing them in the meaning of the prophetical writings, vastly beyond what they had hitherto attained; removing the films of prejudice which clouded their understandings; and leading them into just views of the spiritual and heavenly nature of their Lord's kingdom. Upon many occasions, during his personal intercourse with them, they had discovered strong prejudices in favour of a worldly kingdom, and slowness of heart to believe all that the prophets had written; and even when their Lord had risen from the dead and was about to ascend into heaven, they asked him, “ Wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?”But the illumination which now filled their minds, removed their ignorance, rectified their misapprehensions, and conformed their views to the scope of all the prophets, as well as to the doctrine which they had received from the lips of Christ himself.
* John xx. 19, 26. † Acts ji. 2-4.
Acts ii. 1. 1 Cor. xvi. 1, 2.
# Acts i, 6.
It is also manifest that this effusion of the Holy Spirit had an amazing effect upon the apostles in animating them with a spirit of power, magnanimity, and zeal in their master's service. While he was yet with them, we may trace in their history numerous marks of timidity and weakness under the anticipation of danger. Such were their efforts to prevent his going into Judea ; and their forsaking him at the time of his apprehension ; on which occasion, it is recorded that they all forsook him and fled; even Peter, the most intrepid among them, denying that he knew him. But what a revolution took place in their conduct in this respect after the day of pentecost! We behold them inspired with fortitude and resolution to declare their testimony before magistrates and rulers, regardless of personal danger, and even “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his sake."
But the most astonishing effect of all was, that they were hereby qualified for speaking various languages which they had never learned, thus making known their message to inen of all nations under heaven, and confirming its truth by performing such miraculous works as were an evident indication that God was with them. This indeed was in perfect consistency with Christ's promise to them when he said, “In my name shall they cast out devils ; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” An occurrence so remote from the common course of nature, we may readily suppose would produce an astonishing sensation upon those who were witnesses of it. The sudden ability of so many rude and illiterate Galileans, to speak perfectly in all languages—to express themselves with propriety and force, so as not only to be clearly understood, but to impress the consciences of the hearers, was a phenomenon which carried with it a proof
13 of divine interposition too incontestible to admit of a rational doubt. Those who first observed it, spake of it to others, and a rumour spread abroad. Jerusalem was at the moment the resort of Jews and Jewish proselytes dispersed throughout the various parts of the Roman empire, and multitudes had come from different countries to celebrate the feast. The promiscuous throng, who were collected by so strange a report, and had been accustomed to different languages, were therefore greatly astonished to hear them declare, each one in his own tongue, the wonderful works of God. While some expressed their surprise at this, others ascribed it to the effects of wine. This weak and perverse slander was, however, immediately refuted by the apostle Peter, who, standing up with the other eleven apostles, lifted up his voice and said unto them :-“ Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you that these are not drunken as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day*_but this is that which is spoken by the prophet Joel.”+ He then quotes the words of Jehovah in which he had promised to pour out his Spirit upon all flesh-attended with the most awful denunciations against those who should despise it, but with a gracious promise of salvation to all that should call upon the name of the Lord. The illustration of this remarkable prophecy and its application to what was now obvious to all their senses, paved the way for the apostle's drawing their attention to the great subject of his ministry, the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had taken and by wicked hands crucified and slain. · The Holy Spirirt gave energy to his doctrine. Like a torrent, it bore down all the vain imaginations and presumptuous reasonings by which the minds of his hearers
Corresponding to our nine in the morning. + Acts üi, 14–16,
were fortified; it reached conviction to their consciences, so that like men frantic with despair, they cried out in the anguish of their hearts, “ Men and brethren, what shall we do?” To persons reduced to this extremity, conscious that they had been imbruing their hands in the blood of the Son of God, how unspeakably welcome must have been the words of the apostle, “ Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the Holy Ghost; for the promise is to you and to your children, and to all, that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call."*
This divine declaration of mercy, to men in the situation of these convicted Jews, pricked to the heart with a consciousness of their guilt and overwhelmed with despair, must have been like life from the dead. Three thousand of them joyfully received the apostles' doctrine, were baptized, and the same day added to the number of disciples, that already existed in Jerusalem
And here we contemplate the beginning of the establishment of Christ's kingdom in the world; or, which is the same thing, the erection of the first Christian church, But before proceeding further, it may not be improper to pause and endeavour to trace out a concise description of it in a few leading particulars.
When Jesus was interrogated by the Roman governor concerning his claim to royalty, he replied that his kingdom was not of this world, and in the church of Jerusalem we see the truth of this exemplified. We there behold a company of self-condemned sinners, who under the impending wrath of heaven, had fled for refuge to the merey of God freely proclaimed to them in the gospel of salvation. They were persons who believed what these inspired witnesses testified concerning the mission, the char
* Acts ži, 38.
The Church at Jerusalem.
acter, the sufferings, death, resurrection, and ascension into heaven of the Son of God; and who, under all their accumulated guilt and wretchedness, found enough in these things to encourage their hope of forgiveness, and even fill their souls with peace and joy. The gospel which the apostles preached, was that which exactly suited their case-it contained no rules or directions about what they should do in order to atone for their deep and aggravated guilt; for they found all that was necessary to satisfy the most troubled conscience in the doctrine concerning the Son of God as delivered for the offences of the guilty and raised again for their justification.
Hence we see that in obedience to his command," those who gladly received the truth, were baptized” in the name of the Lord Jesus. In this ordinance they confessed their faith in him as the Son of God, who died for their sins, was buried, and rose again the third day ; publicly professing that all their hope of salvation centered in these things. They separated themselves from “ an untoward generation ;” and “ all that believed were together.” They received from the apostles the various ordinances of public worship—the apostles' doctrine, the fellowship, the breaking of bread, and the ordinances of prayer and praise; and in these things they continued stedfastly, having favour with all the people, and receiving into their number, from time to time, such individuals as it pleased the Lord to call to the knowledge of the truth.
The doctrine which they believed, and in which they found all their happiness and joy, was the common bond of union among them. They loved one another for the truth's sake, which dwelt mutually in them. To this they were naturally attached, as being the common centre of their hope and joy, and it prompted them to take a lively interést in each other's spiritual welfare. Having experienced much forgiveness at the hands of God, they were influenced