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remarkable events relative to the introduction of Christianity into the world, so that it might be truly said, This thing was not done in a corner. Three times in a year all the males of the Jewish nation were commanded to appear before the Lord their God in Jerusalem, as it is mentioned in the first lesson for this morning's service; namely, at the passover; at the feast of weeks, called Pentecost, from its occurring fifty days after the former festival ; and at the feast of tabernacles. At the first of these festivals, Christ our passover was sacrificed for us,69 by which means the attention of the whole nation was directed to the subject of His sufferings and death, and His resurrection from the dead. On the next occasion of the nation being assembled together, the circumstance took place which we this day commemorate. This festival was observed as a season of gratitude and joy for the ingathering of the harvest. The apostles had just before witnessed the ascension of their Lord and Master into heaven, previous to which He had commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, said He, ye have heard of Me; for John truly baptized with water, but
ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost, not many days hence ;70 ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you ; and ye shall be witnesses unto Me, both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.70 In the course of ten days afterwards, the feast of weeks commenced.
68 Acts xxvi. 26.
69 1 Cor. i. 7.
70 Acts i. 4, 5, 8.
St. Luke relates, in the portion of scripture to which our attention is now to be directed, that when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place, no doubt waiting for the fulfilment of the promise of their Lord and Master, as He had directed them. 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 as of fire; and it sat upon each of them: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, or in foreign languages, with which they were not before acquainted, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Thus they were qualified at once to execute the commission which had been given them to go and teach all nations, which could not otherwise have been accomplished by illiterate Galileans, such as they were. The festival season afforded them an opportunity of ascertaining that they were really made acquainted with many living languages; for there were dwelling at Jerusalem, during that period, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. These persons would not have been at Jerusalem but for the feast. When it was commonly reported that the disciples of Christ were speaking in an unintelligible manner, or in a number of unknown languages, the foreigners were induced to go to them, and were astonished to find that in whatever language they addressed the apostles, in that very tongue the wonderful works of God were immediately proclaimed. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confounded, or filled with astonishment, 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? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphilia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Lybia about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians ; we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. The people of Jerusalem and Judea, who were not acquainted with these foreign languages, when they heard the apostles of Christ speak words which they did not understand, began to mock, and said, These men are full of new wine ; they supposed them to be drunken. The apostle Peter, hearing this, stood up, and addressed them with such effect in setting forth the glory of the risen and exalted Saviour, that the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls, who repented, and were baptized every one of them in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Such was the wonderful effect immediately produced by the effusion of the Holy Spirit, which we this day commemorate. Let us now inquire, from the words of the text,
First, How the apostles of Christ were filled with the Holy Ghost; and,
Secondly, In what respect believers in Christ, in all ages of the Christian church, are made partakers of this most excellent gift.
Let it be our prayer that the Spirit of God may be pleased to bear His witness in our hearts, that we may be taught by Him the truth as it is in Jesus, and may partake of the comforting and sanctifying influences of His
that He may be glorified in us and by us. We are to inquire,
First, How, or in what respect, the apostles of Christ were filled with the Holy Ghost. As it regarded themselves, personally considered, the meaning of this expression is beautifully paraphrased in the Collect for this day, in which it is said, that “God did teach the hearts of His faithful people, by sending to them the light of His Holy Spirit.” By the gracious operations of the Holy Ghost, the eyes of their understanding were enlightened; they were led into all the truth of the gospel of Christ; and their hearts were so affected by it, that they received the truth in the love of it. It was for this purpose that our blessed Lord promised that the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, should be sent to them. But it was not merely for their own benefit, as individuals, that Divine knowledge was communicated to them. It was given them in a large and abundant measure, fòr the benefit of mankind, that their sound might go out into all lands, their words unto the ends of the world.71 In consequence of this they went forth and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following:72 For the benefit of mankind then the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ were filled with the Holy Ghost, and made partakers of His plenary inspiration. They spake, as the text states, as the Spirit gave them utterance, or in other words, as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. This had been promised to them by their Lord and Master. He had said to them, I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay or resist.
The Holy Ghost shall teach you what ye ought to say. It was under the immediate inspiration of the Holy Spirit that they promulgated the doctrines of Christianity. What they said was suggested to them by the Holy Ghost, so that they said nothing wrong, they made no mistake in the doctrine which they taught. And in order that what was
71 Psalm xix. 4.
72 Mark xvi. 20.
73 Luke xxi. 15; xii. 12.