« AnteriorContinuar »
too hard for them. They could discourse to Men of all Nations and Countries, in their several Languages j and that -too, without any previous Learning or Meditation, but t>y the immediate Assistance and Inspiration of the Holy Ghost. By which means they who were but poor illiterate fishermen, became of a sudden Fishers of Men \ and instead of catching the mute and silly Fish, they converted rthe Wits and Sages of the World, and brought in whole 'Sholes of Proselytes to Christianity.
Lastly, 'tis here faid, that they spake as the Spirit gave' them Utterance .- they spake not of their own heads, rashly or what came first to mind, but what was dictated and directed to them by the Holy Spirit. They did not utter vain, empty, or idle Effusions, but wife, useful, and' weighty Sayings j for so the Word lmntb'vyyiSsa.t, in the Original signisies not any loose or vain talking, but wise and sententious Speaking: 'tis the uttering of Apophthegms, and speaking like the Oracles of God. Hence we read that God gave them a Mouth and Wisdom ., not a Mouth only to speak any-how, but Wisdom too, to order their Speech, and direct it to wise and useful Purposes. This is the Utterance that the Spirit gives, not the pouring out the crude, hasty Conceptions of oar own Brain, which too many father upon the Holy Spirit $ but wise, pithy, and profitable Sentences, such as befits the Holy Spirit to utter, and becomes us to hear. Once more, 'Their speaking as the Spirit gave them Utterance, beto
the Spirit; gave them in the Delivery of their Message; that whereas before they were but flow of Speech, and in a manner tongue-tyed, they were then enabled to speak with the greatest-Readiness, Courage, and Confidence, and that before all Persons, and in all Places, without being in the least afraid or abash'd at any: in all which 'twas rot so much they that spake, but the Spirit of God, that foake in and by them. These were the Effects that this coming down of the Holy Ghost had upon the Apostles, who were thereby inspir'd with many new Gifs and' Abilities.
But what Effect had this upon the People who saw and heard these things? Why, that the following Words tell us: they were sciz'd with Astonishment and Admiration, and that not a few, bnt all that beheld or heard it-, for there were it that time dwelling at Jerufalem, Jews, and
Fluency of their Speech, which
Other devout Men out of every Nation under Heaven; who were wont to come from all Quarters of the World to the Worship of God at Jerusalem. . Now when this was noisd abroad, the whole Multitude of them came together, and were confounded or astonish'd at the Strangeness of the thing, because that every Man heard the Apostles speaking to them in their own Language, This unexpected News so startled them, that they were all amazed, and marveWd, faying one so another, Behold, are not all these that speak Galileans \ that is, Men born in Galilee, that had lived all their time there: And how hear voe every Man of them speaking in our own Tongue wherein we were born; and as readily too, as we who are Natives of those Countries; Parthians, dWMedes, and Elamites, and the Dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea and Cappadocia, in Pontus and Alia, Phrygia and Pamphilia, in Egypt, and inthe Parts o/Lybia, about Cyrene, andStrangers of Rome, Jews and Proselytes, Cretes and Arabians • , we do hear them speak in our Tongues the wonderful Works of God,: that is, we of so many disferent Nations and Countries, and likewise of so many disferent Dialects and Languages, we do hear them preaching the Doctrine of Christ and the Miracles wrought by him in our own several Tongues, which they never knew or understood before, nor had any Opportunity of learning. And this Wonder made such an Impression upon them, that the Apostles Preaching convinc'd them of the Truth of their Doctrine; and thereby were daily added to the Church, such as should be faved.
These are the Effects which this Descent of the Holy Ghost had upon the People, it being the Means of teaching and converting all Nations, and of turning them from the Darkness of Paganism and Idolatry, to the Light of the Gospel, and the Hopes of eternal Salvation.
This is, in short, the Mercy we are to call to remembrance this Day a Mercy too great for all the Tongues, that at this time fell on the Apostles, sufficiently to celebrate •, a Mercy, for which all that Fire in which the cloven Tongues appears, cannot enough inflame our Breasts with Love and Thankfulness to God: In a word, a Mercy for which every Sermon we hear, coming from the Assistance of this Holy Spirit, should set us a blessing and praising God, for sending him to us. For 'twas the Holy Ghost's coming down this Day, that endow'd the Apostles witb, sower from on high, to plant and. propagate the Gos
pel pel to all the World: by which means it was, that we of these Islands, who before fat in Darkness and in the Regions of the Shadow of Death, had this marvelous Light, which arose and shone among us: by this it was that we at present enjoy the Instructions and Comforts of this Holy Spirit, acquainting us with our Duty here, and the Means of being happy hereafter.
Finally, the Apostles receiving the Holy Ghost at this time, gave them a Commission afterwards to breathe^it on others, and thereby to preserve a Succession of Pastors and Teachers, for the Edification of the Church to the World's end.
For these inestimable Benefits and Blessings, let as compass the Altar with Songs of Thanksgiving: let not the Wonders of this Day, which astonish'd and converted the World, fink into Oblivion, or pass away as things to be (lighted or forgotten by us ^ but let us remember them in the Feast of the Holy Communion, where our Saviour gives us himself, and signs over his Merits to us by the Seal of this Holy Spirit. Let us (as the Apostles did) assemble together this Day with one accord, and in one place, that we may in some measure partake of the Gists and Graces of the Holy Ghost, that were this Day pour'd down upon them: at least let us meet together with one Heart and one Mind at God's Holy Table, to celebrate the Memory, and receive the Comforts of it. Let us call to mind that time, when illiterate Fishermen spake more Languages than the most study'd Linguists, and the Foolishness of Preaching confounded all the Wisdom of the Wise; which things were done by this glorious Descent of the Holy Ghost* O Blessed Change! when Ignorance was turn'd into Knowledg, Sorrow into Joy, Darkness into Light. Let us all then praise and adore the Goodness of God for these mi. raculous Dispenfations, and pay our Tribute of devout Thankfulness to that Holy Spirit by which all these Things were effected. Beware of quenching the pious Ardours of this Holy Spirit, that came down this Day in the form of Fire to kindle in us the Love of God, and to inflame our Devotion, lest he come again in a consuming Fire to destroy all that wilfully resist him: in a word, let us not trample under foot the Blood of the Son of God, by turning our backs upon the Holy Sacrament, but rather let us remember him now, that we may be for ever remembred by him hereafter.
The Gospel for Whitsunday.
St. John xiv. 15 2$.
Jesus said unto his Disciples, If ye love me, keep my Commandments: And I will pray the Father, and he (ball give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of Truth; whom the World cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knowetb him j but ye know him, 8cc.
THE Disciples had fhew'd many Signs and Tokens of their Love to Christ ; as the Delight they took in his Presence, the Fears they had of losing his Company, and the Sorrow they conceiv'd, at the News of his departing from them, and the like: all which were great Marks and Instances of Affection. But our Saviouf here minds them of another and truer Token of their Love to him than all these ., and that is, the doing what he had commanded them: Is ye love me (faith he) keep my Commandments. As if he had faid, Some of you have profess'd great Love to me, and yet in a time of Trial have deny'd and forfaken me : Others have cry'd, Hail Master.' and kiss'd me-, and yet have soon afterbetray'dand crucify'd me. And indeed it is but too common among Men, to pretend much Love and Friendship, and in words to compliment each other with Tour humble Servant, when in deeds they prove quite otherwise', and when need or occasion requires, to shew the quite contrary. And therefore if you would: prove the Truth and Reality of your Love to me (faith our Saviour) shew it by observing my Precepts, and by doing as I have directed you. This is the best Touchstone and Trial of the Sincerity of your Affection to me: and if you give me that, I will give you a higher Token of my Love to you, than you have yet receiv'd from me; for / •will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter* that stall abide with you for ever.
I will pray, and he shall give: If Christ will pray, there can be no fear of speeding; especially considering, that he who is sued to is a Father, and he that sues is a Son : the Nearness of the Relation, and the Dearness of the Affection between them, is abundantly enough to secure the Success of the Petition fdr if earthly Parents know how to give good Gifts to their Children, how much more stall your Father which is in Heaven, give good things to them that ask them? And if an ordinary Son is commonly heard of his father, and obtains his Request, how much more shall ari only-begotten and only-beloved Son, in whom the Father is well pleas'd, prevail in what he asks? He was ever heard (faith the Apostle) in that he feared, Heb. 5. 7. His Duty and Reverence to his heavenly Father will not suffer -liis Petitions to be dismifs'd without a gracious and effectual -Answer: / will pray (faith be) and the Father JJjall give; and between both ye shall be sure to receive. .
But what is the Gift he here promiseth from the Father? •Why, 1st, 'tis a Comforter, yea, I fay unto you, and more -than a Comforter, 'tis a Paraclete j ^^.nhiQov <S£m v/uif, he lhall give you a Paraclete: which, beside a Comforter to .chear in Distress, signifies an Instructor in cafe of Doubts, and an Intercessor in time of Need; all which good Offices are included in the word Paraclete, and are perform'd by Jiim, as was shew'd in the Gospel for the last Sunday. .Again,
zdly, Here is promis'd another Comforter: Tour Father shall give you another Comforter; that is, another besides himself: for another always supposes one before or beside, and that can be no other than Christ. He was a Comforter to the Disciples while he was upon Earth, and so he continues still to be in Heaven, where he appears as an Advocate in the presence of God for us, to plead our Cause, and to make Intercession for us. But another Comforter was necessary for us here on Earth, to supply the Defect of his bodily Presence; and this is here promis'd : so that Christians now have a double Comforter, the one in Heaven, to act for them there; the other on Earth, to help their Infirmities: And both are no more than need, to carry them thro the Troubles and Temptations of this Life, 19 bring them to a better. Moreover^