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therefore, if they were convinced by it, even three thousand of them in one single hour, we may be sure that the evidence was clear and irresistible. If "by his resurrection from the dead, the Lord Jesus was proved to be the Son of God with power," much more was he by his visible ascension to heaven, and his sending forth of the Holy Spirit according to his word.] 2. As the reward of his sufferings
[The Father had engaged in covenant with the Lord Jesus, that if he would “ make his soul an offering for sin, he should see a seed who should prolong their days, and the pleasure of the Lord should prosper in his hands : yea, that he should see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied b.” And now this promise was fulfilled. By the sending down of the Holy Spirit, the recompence was accorded to him: "the great were divided to him for a portion, and the strong for a spoil, because he had poured out his soul unto death, and been numbered with transgressors, and borne the sins of many, and made intercession for transgressors.” It was in the prospect of this that he had “ endured the cross, and despised the shame, and had sat down at the right hand of the throne of Godd." it had been declared unto him, that “he should receive gifts for men, even for the rebellious, that the Lord God might dwell among them :" and his being empowered to “confer these gifts” was, on the Father's part, a fulfilment of the engagement he had entered intoe, and a bestowment of “the benefits which he had purchased with his own blood ?."] 3. As the pledge and earnest of his glory
[" The prophets, speaking by the Spirit of Christ, had from the beginning testified respecting the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow 8." Now, this sending forth of the Holy Spirit was the commencement of the Saviour's glory, both amongst Jews and Gentilesh: and to this had John the Baptist and our Lord himself referred, as the pledge and earnest of his triumphs. Our blessed Lord, previous to his ascension, had taught his Disciples to expect this: but it was not till the renewal of this miracle to the Gentile converts, six years afterwards, that Peter recollected his words; and then they were brought most forcibly to his remembrance : “ Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost k.” In all subsequent effusions of the Holy Spirit has the glory of Christ been advancing, even unto this time'; and by this, at a future period, will his kingdom be extended over the face of the whole earth: “ when the Spirit will be poured out from on high, the wilderness shall become a fruitful field, and the fruitful field be counted for a forest m." The request for that effusion of the Spirit needs only to be made by him; and “the heathen shall instantly be given to him for an inheritance, and the utmost parts of the earth for his possession"."]
b Isai. liii. 10, 11. c Isai. liii. 12. d Heb. xii. 2
e Compare Ps. Ixviii. 18. with Eph. iv. 8; and mark the distinction between received" and "gave." I Acts xx. 28.
8 1 Pet. i. 10, 11. h Acts xi. 15.
i Matt. iii. 11. Acts i. 4, 5.
Nor is this a mere speculative subject. It has a great practical tendency; as will be seen, whilst I shew, II. What we may learn from it
Some idea may be formed of the immense importance of this subject, by the mention of two things only, to which I will confine your attention. We may see, then, from hence,
1. What we ourselves, if we believe in Christ, may expect
[Our blessed Lord, in the days of his flesh, stood in a place of public concourse, and cried, “ If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink; and out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. This spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe in him should receive." True, in his miraculous powers we are no longer to hope for the Holy Spirit's operations : but, as our Teacher, our Comforter, our Sanctifier, we may expect his influences now, no less than in the apostolic age: for the Lord has promised, saying, “ Lo, I am with you alway, even to the end of the world P.” See his discourses just previous to his departure from this world, how full they are of this subject ? — And what assurance he has given us that we shall not seek the Spirit's influence in vain". To every one of you, then, I say, Enlarge your expectations, to the full extent of your necessities: for God the Father will save you by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost, which he will shed forth on you abundantly, through Jesus Christ our Saviours. Indeed I must not content myself with saying that this great gift shall be vouchsafed unto you, if you will believe in Christ; for it is the express declaration of Almighty God, that, "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his t."]
k Acts xi. 16.
1 John xvi. 14. m Isai. xxxii. 15. n Ps. ij. 8.
o John vii. 37-39. p Matt. xxviii. 20. 9 John xiv. 16, 17, 26. xv. 26. and xvi. 7–13. r Luke xi. 13. $ Tit. iii. 4-6.
2. In what respects we may ourselves confirm the testimony here given
[The Apostles, on the day of Pentecost, were witnesses for Christ, not only in a way of oral testimony, but especially in the miraculous powers which they exercised. And though these miraculous powers have ceased, yet are there spiritual influences, by which the agency of the Holy Spirit is no less displayed. What if we saw, “ in the whole valley of vision, the dead bones resume their former vitality, and rise upon the earth a large army," would that not display the operation of a divine power u? Behold, such a witness for the Lord is every soul that is "quickened from its death in trespasses and sins'." Not less power is exerted in the recovery of every apostate soul, than in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and his investiture with divine authority over all the principalities and powers both of heaven and helly. Be ye then, my brethren, witnesses for the Lord, by shewing forth the power of his grace", and bringing forth in rich abundance the fruits of his Spirit a. Especially bear about in you a resemblance to the Lord Jesus Christ, in all his holy tempers and dispositions under his unparalleled afflictions; and then “ the life of that blessed Saviour will be made manifest in your bodies b." Be ye "planted in the likeness of his death and resurrection;" and ye will be witnesses for him, that he is possessed of all power in heaven and in earth, and that in due season every enemy shall be put under his feet.]
t Rom. viii. 9. u Ezek. xxxvii. 1—10. * Eph. ii. 1. y Eph. i. 19–25. 2 1 Pet. ii. 9.
a Gal. v. 22–24. b 2 Cor. iv. 11.
JESUS IS THE CHRIST.
Acts ii. 36. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom
ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
WHEN we consider the advantages possessed by the Apostles, we are astonished to find how slow of heart they were to receive and understand the great mystery of the Gospel salvation. Not only before the death of their Lord, but after his resurrection, yea, and after all his appearances to them, and the fresh instructions given them during the space of forty days, they could not divest themselves of the idea of a temporal kingdom. Not an hour before his ascension to heaven, they asked him, “ Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?” But from the day of Pentecost there was no more of doubt upon their minds respecting any fundamental point of our religion. For some years indeed they retained their prejudices about the Gentiles, not conceiving that they were to be admitted to a full participation of the blessings of the Gospel : but, respecting Christ, and his salvation, they were fully instructed, and never spake but with the most unshaken confidence. This appears from the very first sermon which was delivered by any one of them. St. Peter argued with as strong a persuasion of mind as he possessed at any future period; and without hesitation affirmed, in the presence of thousands of his countrymen, that Jesus, even the very person whom they had crucified, was indeed the Christ, the true Messiah
His words are evidently the close of an argument : and, as they are delivered with peculiar confidence, it will be proper to consider, I. The force of his reasoning
Our Lord, according to his promise, had poured out the Spirit in a visible manner on his Disciples, whereby they were enabled to speak a great variety of languages, which gift was emblematically represented by the appearance of cloven tongues, as of fire. The circumstance of their immediately addressing all persons in their native tongues, excited the greatest astonishment: but those who understood not the particular language which they spake, represented them as in a state of intoxication. In vindication of himself and his associates, the Apostle justly observes, that such an imputation was absurd, since none but
a The order of the words in the Greek makes the expression very emphatical.
the most abandoned of men could have been drinking to intoxication so early as nine o'clock in the morning, and that upon a solemn feast-day, when they were about to worship God in his temple; and then proceeds to argue with them respecting the Messiahship of Christ, as proved by this event.
He states, 1. That this miraculous gift was foretold by the Prophet Joel, as to be conferred by the Messiah
[The passage cited from the prophet Joel undoubtedly refers to the times of the Messiah b. Previous to that time the Holy Spirit had been given only in a very partial way to a few: but, when Christ should be glorified, he was to be poured out, as it were, upon multitudes, both of men and women, that by his miraculous operations he might testify of Christ, and by his efficacious grace he might bring men to Christ.
After this should have been done for a space of time sufficient to evince the distinguished kindness of God towards his ancient people, and their incorrigible obstinacy towards him, God would give them signs of a very different kind; even such terrible signs, as should be like " turning the sun into darkness, and the moon into blood;" and then should destruction come upon them to the uttermost: but as, previously to that period, all who should believe in Christ should be saved from the condemnation in which all others would be involved, so, at that period, all his believing people should escape the miseries which would overwhelm the residue of that devoted nation.
This was the plain meaning of the prophecy, which at this time began to be fulfilled ; and which in due season should receive a perfect accomplishment.] 2. That this gift was actually conferred by Jesus,
[It was known to all of them, that Jesus, during his ministry on earth, had wrought innumerable miracles in confirmation of his word and doctrine: and though the nation had put him to an ignominious death, yet had God raised him from the dead, and empowered him to send forth the Spirit in the manner he had done.
With respect to the truth of his resurrection, it had been foretold in terms that could be applicable to him alone. It could not be of himself that David spake those words; for he did die, and see corruption; and his tomb remained even to the Apostles' days: but Jesus saw no corruption: his soul was not left in the place of departed spirits, nor was his body
b Compare ver. 16—21. with Joel ii. 28–32.
Compare ver. 23—28. with Ps. xvi. 8–11.