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God, thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”. In another Psalm he declares the same truth in still plainer terms; " Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive; thou hast received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them.”p By consulting the apostle we shall find that this gift which. Jesus then received, was, the holy Spirit; and that he received it in order that he might communicate it to his church; for, quoting this very passage, he alters one word in it, and says, " he gave gifts unto men;" and then adds, that he gave these “ for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ.” But the testimony of another apostle is absolutely decisive on this point: while St. Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Ghost came down upon all the apostles, and abode on each of them in the shape of cloven tongues of fire: the apostle then declared that this was an accomplishment of Joel's prophecy respecting “ the pouring out of God's Spirit;" and referred them to Jesus as the author of it, and as having received, at this time, the gift of the Spirit for this very end; “therefore, says he, being exalted by the right hand of God, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, Jesus hath shed forth this which ye now see and heart -Thus was this holy oil poured out upon the head of our great High Priest, that it might flow down to the skirts of his
garments, and reach to the meanest of his members—] TO IMPROVE this subject we may
observe 1. What abundant provision has God made for our salvation!
(What can we conceive either as necessary or desirable beyond what our blessed Redeemer has done for us? What could the most guilty and abandoned sinner upon earth desire more of Christ, than that he should“ finish transgression, make an end of sin, make reconciliation for iniquity, bring in for him an everlasting righteousness, and anoint him” with that same Spirit wherewith he himself is 4 anointed without measure?"-Or what evidence of his ability and willingness to do these things would any man have, beyond what the accomplishment of so many types and prophecies affords him?-And shall God do so much for us, and we do nothing for ourselves? Yea, shall God freely offer us this glorious salvation, and we not deign to receive it?--O let us open our eyes, and behold our truest interest: let us not perish in the midst of mercy; let us not be famished when so rich a feast is set before us;u but let us comply with the Saviour's invitation, “Eat, o friends, drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved>]
o Ps. xly. 7.
p Ps. Ixviii. 18.
9 Eph. iv. 8, 11, 12
2. How deeply are we interested in obtaining the knowledge of Christ!
[When the apostles were asked by our Lord, whether they also intended to forsake him, Peter well replied, “Lord, whither shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life”—Thus must we say; for assuredly “there is salvation in no other; there is no other name given under heaven whereby we must be saved, but the name of Jesus Christ”. In vain will be all our selfrighteous endeavours to reconcile ourselves to God, or to renew our polluted hearts—“If Christ wash us not, we have no part with him:"z if he put not away our sins, they must abide upon us for ever: if he do not impart to us that “unction of the Holy One, whereby we know all things," and " can do all things,” we must perish in our impotency, even as newborn infants that are left to themselves--Shall we then be regardless of the Saviour, and “perish for the lack of knowledge,” when God is thus labouring to instruct us!-Shall we not rather, like Daniel, pray day and night that we may obtain a clearer knowledge of his will? --Let us, O let us "give ear. nest heed to the things that are spoken;" and treasure up in our minds that truth of God, which alone can sanctify us, which alone can save us—]
u Isai. xxv. 6.
* Song v. 1.
y Acts iv. 12. b Phil. iv. 13.
CLVI. SIGNS OF THE MESSIAH'S ADVENT.
Joel ii. 28–32. And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will
pour out my Spirit upon all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men, shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: and also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days, will I pour out my Spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens, and in the earth, blood and fire, and pillars of smoke. The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the Lord come. And it shall come to pass that whosover shull call on the name of the Lord shall be delivered.
IT is much to be regretted that the obscurities which occur in the prophetic writings (especially those of the lesser prophets) deter many from reading so large a por
tion of the inspired volume. If there are some parts hard to be understood, there are other parts plain and highly instructive: and the very figures, which from their bold. ness and sublimity appear intricate, will be found easy and intelligible, through the light reflected on them in the New Testament—The passage before us would, on a cursory perusal, be deemed incapable of any sober construction, or at least, of any proper application to ourselves: but it plainly declares to us I. The signs of the Messiah's advent
Numberless were the signs by which the world were taught to know the true Messiah: we here notice only two;
1. The effusion of his Spirit for the conversion of his elect
[The Spirit in preceding ages had been given to those of the Jewish nation only, and to but few even of those, and in a scanty measure; but “afterward,” that is, in the times of the Messiah, to be “poured out” abundantly, on Gentiles as well as Jews, and without any distinction of age, sex, or quality, the meanest as well as the greatest being chosen to participate this benefit-This was literally fulfilled, as St. Peter affirms, on the day of Pentecost.a We must not however limit the operations of the Spirit to the imparting of miraculous gifts: the terms used by the prophet import, that they who should receive the Spirit should be so instructed in the mind and will of God, as to be led to "call on” the Messiah, and enjoy “the deliverance” which he was coming to effect--Nor must the prophecy be confined to the apostolic age; for St. Peter also testifies that the promise is to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall callb-]
2. The execution of judgments for the punishment of his enemies
[As an apostle has explained the former part of the text, so has our Lord himself that which now presents itself to our view_The immediate subject, to which these figurative expressions refer, is the destruction of Jerusalem: nor, whether we consider the prodigies that accompanied the siege,d or the devastation and bloodshed occasioned by the Roman armies, are they too strong to represent the scenes which occurred in that devoted city-But those calamities were only shadows of infinitely heavier judgments that shall fall on the ungodly in the last day ~Then, while “the heavens pass away with a great noise, and the elements melt with fervent heat, and the earth and the works also that are therein are burnt up,” will all the contemners of the Messiah wail because of his wrath and fiery indigpation It is indeed in the former sense only that this can be a sign to convince the world at present; but in the latter sense it will hereafter be a demonstration to the whole universe, that all which had been spoken of Christ was true
a Acts ii. 16-21.
b Comp. Acts ii. 39. with the words immediately following the text.
c Matt. xxiv, 7.29. and Luke xxi. 11, 25. d See Duddridge's note on Acts ii. 19.
To encourage an earnest expectation of the Messiah, the prophet declares II. The blessedness of those that believe on hiin
The subjects of the Messiah's kingdom are characteriz. ed as “calling upon his name”
[To call upon Christ is, to give him all that honour and worship that are due to the Supreme Being-This was done by the first martyr, Stephen, and by all the Christian churchs
-It was that which rendered them so odious to the Jews, and so distinguished among the Gentiles - And, at this hour, it justly describes all those who are endued with the Spirit All, without exception, regard Christ as the only source of life and salvation, and depend on him for daily supplies of grace and strength: “the life which they now live in the flesh, is altogether by faith in the Son of God”-]
Nor shall any of that description ever experience the calamities that were foretold as coming on the ungodly world
[The “deliverance” mentioned in the prophecy before us, doubtless referred primarily to the escape of the Christians from Jerusalem, while the Jews, hemmed in on every side, were reduced to the greatest miseries—But we must extend our views to a more important deliverance, even from sin and Satan, from death and hell: it is from these that the sincere follower of Christ will be saved, while all who reject him will perish under the displeasure of an incensed God- In this view
e Our Lord so blends the two events together in Matt. xxiv. that it is not always easy to determine to which of the two his expressions are to be referred.
f2 Pet. iii. 10, with Rev. i. 7. & Acts vii. 59. and i Cor.i. 2. h Acts ix. 14, 21.
i Pliny, in his letter to the Emperor Trajan, stating for his information the conduct of Christians, says, “ they met on certain before it was light to sing an hymn to Christ as God."
St. Paul quotes the very words before us, expressly applying them to Christ as the object of our worship, and confining the blessings of salvation to those who call upon himk - At the same time we must observe that none who comply with this direction are excluded: “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord,” whatever he may have been, or whatever he may have done in times past, provided he call in sincerity and truth, shall find the Lord rich in mercy towards him-]
This subject will be found of Use 1. To confirm our faith against the cavils of infidels
[There have been in every age some, who have rejected Christianity as a cunningly devised fable--But we would ask, Was the effusion of the Spirit predicted? or could the accoin. plishment of that prediction be counterfeited? Was the destruction of Jerusalem foretold? Did Jesus apply the very words of our text to that event, and declare that they should be accomplished before that generation should pass away? And did this also happen within the time specified, attended with such prodigies as strictly corresponded with the terms of this prophecy? Then Christianity must be of divine original; Jesus must be the true Messiah; and salvation must be, as he has declared, through faith in him-Let us then “never be moved away from the hope of the gospel,” but “hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering”-]
2. To vindicate our experiencé against the calumnies of scoffers
[St. Peter adduces this passage in vindication of those who * had received the miraculous influences of the Spirit; and asserts that, what was profanely imputed to intoxication, was indeed a fulfilment of the words of Joel—Thus scoffers of the present day deride all pretensions to the enlightening and sanctifying influences of the Spirit, and, without any candid examination, impute them to folly or hypocrisy-Our professions of faith in Christ, our simple dependence on him, and assured hope of salvation by him, are also deemed enthusiasm-But if we can say,
“ This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel,” or by Peter, or by any other inspired writer, we need not regard their calumnies-If it was said to the apostles, Ye are drunk,
be contented to have it said of us, Ye are fools-Let us then seek more and more earnestly the operations of the Spirit, and be daily calling on the Lord Jesus for grace and mercy: so shall our experience accord with the sacred oracles, and our deliverance be completed, when the sufferings of infidels and scoffers shall commence-]
k Rom. x. 12, 13.