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that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15. For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;6
17. And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18. And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19. And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, andfire, and vapour of smoke:
20. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Such had been the language of the prophet Joel, and such the divine promise, of which this was the first accomplishment. A time had been foretold, when a remarkable effusion of God's Spirit should take place: large beyond former experience, and general beyond man's expectation. In the last days, saith God,—in the last days of Jerusalem and of the Jewish nation—/ will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh; upon the Jew first, as had been already fulfilled in the apostles, and afterwards upon the Gentile also; and they shall prophesy; they shall be employed to carry my word
6 Joel ii. 28—31.
into the uttermost ends of the earth. Other signs and wonders shall follow: "signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth; for the powers of heaven shall be shaken." So the Lord himself describes, (Luke xxi. 25,) in terms like those of Joel, dangers and national calamities of which these figures are the emblem: dangers and calamities which should usher in that great and notable day of the Lord, when '' Jerusalem should be trodden down of the Gentiles," and suffer the punishment of obstinate disobedience, " because she had not known the time of her visitation."
Where, however, in the Bible, are we left without hope? Where is darkness to be found without light, or judgment without mercy? Certainly not here. Here, too, is grace offered. It shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. "For in Mount Sion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the Lord hath said."7 So the original prophecy concludes. There was yet an opening of escape, an interval allowed for repentance and for pardon. "Return unto the Lord, for he will have mercy upon you; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,"
The apostle points to this in the remainder of his discourse; and thus practically displays the purpose of God, who " willeth not that any should 1 Joel ii. 32.
perish, but rather that he should be converted and live."
Could a clearer proof of his merciful will be given than we find here? In the very place where Christ "by wicked hands was crucified and slain," redemption through his name is first proclaimed.
There seems, in truth, to be a perpetual contest between God and his creatures ;—God as earnest for their salvation as they are indifferent concerning it. He constantly inviting, they as constantly refusing.
How much will this long-suffering on God's part, and this repugnance on the part of men, add to the bitterness of their condemnation, if they be at last condemned! Because, though warned of danger, they refused to listen: though assured of acceptance, they refused to humble themselves: though acquainted with the means through which redemption is offered to every man, they refused to call on the name of the Lord that they might be saved. And yet, the greater the mercy, the greater the condemnation, if that mercy is despised.
May the God of all grace enlighten the eyes of our understanding, that we may know the riches of the glory of his inheritance, and experience the exceeding greatness of his power towards them that believe.8
8 See Ephes. i. 19.
CONTINUATION OF PETERS DISCOURSE TO THE JEWISH Assembly.-a.d. 33.
Acts ii. 22—36.
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you, by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24. Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it,
25. For David speaketh concerning him,1 I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad: moreover also, my flesh shall rest in hope:
27. Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell,3 neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
28. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life ; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
29. Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day:
30. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his
1 Ps. xvi. 8—11.
2 In Hades, the place of departed spirits.
loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne :3
31. He seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
We here find Peter fulfilling the prophecy of his Lord; laying the first stone of that building which he was to raise, the Christian church.* The foundation on which he places it, is the death and resurrection of Christ. His death, though brought about by the wicked passions of men, was settled in the determinate counsel of God, that he might be "the propitiation for our sins," the "Lamb slain before the foundation of the world." Thus he died as man; but he rose as God. Him God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. It was not possible that he who " had life in himself," who " quickeneth whom he will," should be kept in the chains of death. He might submit to die in that nature which he had assumed; he might " lay down his life of himself," though no man could take it from him; but it was not possible that he should be holden of death, as had been foreshown from the beginning in a prophecy of David, which cannot be justly or fully applicable to any other. In part, it is applicable to all the people of God ; for he is on their right hand, that they shall not be moved; moreover also their flesh shall rest in hope, that "though worms destroy this body, yet in their flesh shall they see God;" they shall 3 Ps. cxxxii. 11. * Matt. xv. 18.