Obrazy na stronie

gether, might afford the more Witnesses of the Truth of it, and spread the News the farther. Now the Day of Pentecost, which, as the Name imports, was on the fiftieth Day after the Passover, was a great and memorable Feast among the Jews, because on that Day the Law was deliver'd to them by Moses on Mount Sinai ; the yearly Renembrance whereof drew much People together at that time to celebrate it with the greater Solemnity, which made this a very fit Season for the Coming of the Holy Ghost. Again,

2dly, This was done on the Feast of Pentecoft above any other Feast, to keep up the Harmony and Correspondence between the Old Testament and the New, 'Twas St. Cyprian's Observation, that our Saviour kept the fame Feasts under the Gospel, that were observ'd under the Law, only upon higher and better accounts. The Jews kept the Paf sover in memory of the destroying Angel's pafling over the Houses of the Israelites; but Christ, in memory of his par Ung from Death to Life: and on the same Day that the Pass chal Lamb was flain, was Christ the Lamb of God offer'd up

for the Sins of the World: which made the Apostle say, Chrift our Pallover is sacrificed for us ; therefore let us keep the Feaft. 1 Cor. 5.7. In like manner, as the Jews, on the fiftieth Day after the Passover, which was their Feast of Pentecost, receiv'd the Law from Mount Sinai ; so the Christians on the fiftieth Day after Easter, which is our Pentecost, receiv'd the Gospel, or the Royal Law of Liberty, by the Descent of the Holy Ghost : both which are to be remember'd with Joy on this Day, callid antiently the Feast of Pentecost, and now known by the Name of Whitsunday; because the Christians in former times were wont to wear white Garments on this Day, callid therefore Dominica in Albis. At which time likewise great Numbers were wont to be baptiz'd, in memory of the three thousand Souls converted by St. Peter's Sermon, and baptiz'd on this Day; of whom we read in Ver. 38, & 41. of this Chapter, This for the Time when.

Secondly, For the Place where this Holy Spirit descended, that was at Jerusalem, where the Apostles were commanded to stay and wait for the fulfilling of the Promise of Christ's fending to them the Holy Ghost: in order to which 'tis here faid, that the Apostles were all with one accord in one Place, where (as a Father obferves) there was both Unani.



mity and Uniformity; Unaninity in their being of one Acz cord, and Uniformity in their being in one place; two neceffary Requisites to the Coming of the Holy Spirit, and the fittest Dispositions to receive it: for the Spirit of Unity (as the fame Father tells us) will not come, but where there is a Unity of Spirit. The Holy Ghost being a Spirit of Peace and Love, abandons all Discord and Dissension, and will not come or abide there, where the Hearts are divided: even the natural Spirit or Life cannot come or continue, where the Members are sever'd and disunited; nor can the Soul animate or actuate then, unless they be join'd and meet together; much less will the Holy Spirit, who is one with the Father and the Son, and likewise came to make us one with them, and with one another, dwell with divided Hearts or disjoin'd Affections: which made the Apostles so earnestly exhort Christians to keep the Unity of the Spirit in the Bond of Peace. This for the Place where the Holy Ghost descended, which was Jerusalem, defcrib:d to be a place at Unity within it self, and therefore a fit Place to receive the Spirit of Peace and Unity.

But what was the Manner of the Holy Ghost's coming down? Why, that is set forth here, by the Sound of a rushing mighty Wind; by the Shape of Cloven Tongues; and by the Likeness of Fire : All which help to exprefs the various Operations of this Holy Spirit, and to shew the Myftery of its miraculous Descent. As,

ist, We read here, that the Apostles and Disciples being thus unanimously net together in one Place, there suddenly came a Sound from Heaven, as of a rushing mighty Wind, and it filled all the House where they were sitting : where we read that the Spirit of God came down (as the Pfalmist expresses it) flying upon the Wings of the Wind; the rushing Sound whereof was a Token of Inspiration, and signify'd the breathing into the Apostles the Gifts of the Holy Ghost, Sometimes indeed he came filently, as he did upon Cornelins and his Company, and many others at Ephesus, where nothing was either heard or feen; but here he came audibly upon the Apostles in a Sound, and such a one too as was heard' afar off; for the Sound is gone into all Lands, and the Words of it to the Ends of the Earth. And this Sound is said to be convey'd by a Wigd, that scatter'd it in all Places round about, and denotes the Activity of the Holy Spirit, as also the Freeness and Diffusiveness of its Gifts :


for as the Wind bloweth where it lifteth, and tho we hear the Sound of it, yet we cannot tell whence it cometh, or whither it goeth; fo is every one that is born of the Spirit. John 3. 8.

Again, The Wind in which he came is faid to be a nusing mighty Wind, to denote the great Force and Efficacy of this Holy Spirit: for as the high Winds sometimes blow with that Violence, as to carry all before them; fo the Motions of this Holy Spirit are many times strong and irresistible, and conquer all Opposition: for we read of Stephen, that all his Enemies could not resist the Wisdom and Spirit, with which he spake; A&ts 6. 10. And the rest of the Apostles, by this Breath of God, blew down all the Strong-holds of Sin and Satan, and brought into Captivity every high' thing that exalted it self against the Knowledg of Christ.

Moreover, This Wind is said to come from Heaven : it was no earthly Exhalation, that arose from, or favour'd of the Earth; but a Divine Inspiration, that descended from Heaven, and exalted those upon whom it lighted above all earthly to heavenly things.

Lastly, 'Tis faid of this Wind, that it filled all the House where they were sitting; that is, the Influence of this Holy Spirit reach'd all that were there present, and from thence diffus'd it self into all parts of the World. This is the first thing by which the Coming down of the Holy Ghost is here set forth, vize by a rushing mighty Wind. The · 2d Was in the shape of Cloven Tongues, which appear'd unto them, as the next words inform us. The Spirit's appearing in the shape of Tongues, was an Embleni of Elocution, as the Wind was of Inspiration : and as by this the Apostles receiv'd the Gifts of the Holy Ghost themselves, so by the other they were enabled to utter and impart them to others. Accordingly the Cloven Tongues represented the Diversity of Languages, with which they were endow'd for the publishing and propagating the Gospel to all Nations.

There is indeed a Cleaving of the Tongue which doth much harn; as when Men thereby become double-tongu’d, and use it as an Instrument of Deceit and Double-dealing : But the Cloven Tongues here were for the great Good of Mankind, to enable them to declare to all People the Will of God, and the Mysteries of their own Salvation. And this was design'd as a Blesling to reverse the Curse of Babel : for as the Īongues were then divided to confound the Builders of Babel, that the Work might be hinder'd, by


not understanding one another; fo on the contrary, the Tongues were cloven here, that the Apostles might understand the Languages of all Nations, and thereby the better build them up in the most Holy Faith: it being all one as to Edification, whether all. Men (as of old) speak one Language; or some Men (as now) speak all: for what was lost hy the Confusion of the one, is recover'd by the Knowledg of the other, and the Method of instructing the World, is preserv'd by both. Again,

3dly, These Cloven Tongues were said to appear in the Likeness of Fire ; that is, they were infiam'd from Heaven, to kindle in the Disciples the pious Ardours of Affection and true Devotion. St. James speaks of some Tongues that are set on Fire of Hell, Jan. 3. 6. and they are such as are us'd to Slander and Detraction, to the Dishonour of God, and the Discrediting of our Neighbour ; which things proceed from an evil Spirit, and are done by the Instigation of the Devil. But we are told here of Tongues that are set on fire of Heaven; and they are employ'd to better Purposes, viz. to the promoting the Glory of God, and the Good of Mankind : which things come from a good Spirit, and are the Motions of the Holy Ghost, whose Coming we this Day celebrate.

Now the Likeness of Fire, in which the Holy Ghost appear'd, ferves to represent to us the Purity, and the Power of this Divine Spirit: for as Fire is the purest of all Elements, and helps to refine other things from their Dross and Inpurities; even fo the Holy Spirit purifies our Nature, and refines it from the Dregs and Defilements of the World. And as Fire is a pure, fo is it a powerful Element, that consumes all that is near it, and few or no things can stand before it; even so the Spirit of God is quick and powerful, it strengthens us with Might in the inner Man, and arms us against the Wiles of the Devil : for which reason the Apostles were said to speak with the Holy Ghost, and with Power; and to confirm their Doctrine with the Demonftration of the Spirit and Pomer.

Lastly, These fiery Tongues are said to fit upon each of them; which betokens their stay and Continuance with theni, and gives us to understand that the Light of this Holy Spirit is not a fleeting or transient Flath, but a constant and an abiding Flane: 'tis not like the hot Fit of an Ague, that is foon follow'd with a cold one, but like the veltal Flame, that never goes out, or the Altar-Fires, that


were always kept burning. True. Zeal will keep us conItant and steddy to our Duty, without Lukewarmaels and Neutrality, and make us zealously affe&ted always in a good thing.

Thus we see the Time, Place, and Manner of this wonderful Descent of the Holy Ghost ; from whence let us, in the next place, see what Effects it had on the Apostles that felt it, and the People that saw and heard it : both which are related in the following Part of this Epistle.

As for the Apostles, we read in the next Verse, that they were all filld with the Holy Ghoft, and began to speak with Other Tongues, as the Spirit gave them Utterance. They were filled, but not with Wine, as the Jews maliciously suggelted, charging their Freedom and Readiness of Speech, as the Effect of Intemperance and Excess, and affirning them to be filld with no other Spirits but those of Wine ; which St. Peter sharply rebuk'd, as a belying and blar pheming the Holy Ghost, ver, 13, 14, 15,

Again, they were filld; but not with any windy flatulent Humour, coming from the Gall or the Spleen, which some miscall Zeal and the Power of Godliness: but they were fila led with the Holy Ghoft; that is, with the Gifts and Graces of God's Holy Spirit : and then they began to speak, and not before. 'Twas a Father's Observation, that the Apostles were fill'd first, and then they spake; they stay'd till then, and did not presume to teach others, till they were well fitted and furnith'd for it themselves. Contrary to the Practice of some, who are all for speaking, yea and much speaking too, before they are half full, yea little better than empty, and then like empty Vessels found loud, tho there be little or nothing beside, Vox præterea nihil. None then may venture upon this Office, before they are callid and fillid, but must stay till they are well qualify'd for it, and not take upon them to teach others, before they are well taught and instructed themselves. This is the Order to be obferv'd in this Matter, and the Method of God's appointing.

Moreover, being filld with the Holy Ghost, they Spake with other Tongues; that is, with other Tongues than they did or could before. For whereas before they understood only their own Mother-Tongue, and that but badly too, they were now of a sudden able to speak all manner of Languages, Greek, Latin, Arabick, Persian, Parthian, none


« PoprzedniaDalej »