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the Spirit is accustomed to perform his office of Priest in the temple of the soul; his occupations are innumerable, and he labours without ceasing.
Meanwhile it may happen to us with the Aaron in our souls, as it did to the Jewish congregation with their priest Zacharias; he may disappear, when one least expects it, from the front of the soul's temple ; he may vanish in the back-ground of the sanctuary, and the congregation of the thoughts may stand anxious and trembling before the curtain, afraid lest he have died, or, at least, that he may no more return. Oh! then, be still, ye despairing thoughts; if ye would only listen attentively, ye would hear, though at a distance, the music of the bell at the hem of his garment ! In some way or other, perhaps in a sigh from the depths of the heart, or in a longing desire for the Lord, its sound will be borne to your ears, and be to you a joyful and satisfactory token that the priest still remains in the temple ; and before ye are awake, he steps once more out of his concealment, the censer of incense or the harp in his hand, and convinces you anew of the truth of our Saviour's promise which he gave to his disciples, that the Comforter should abide with them always.
Thus the Spirit performs his various offices; he builds in the desert places, renovates that which is decayed and withered,--fills our hearts with his decorations, and joins. with them egen in the great and eternal song, “ Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to : receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing ! Amen."
THE CHRISTIANS AFTER THE FEAST OF
Acts II. 41-47.
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized; and the
same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doc. trine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul ; and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were togeth. er, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the tem. ple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
WHEN our Saviour said in the Gospel of Matthew,
Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist; notwithstanding, he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he,"—he meant that there was no one then living, no, not even Peter, James or John, to be compared to his forerunner. In the days when Jesus spake these words, his disciples were in gospel light and illumination, far behind the man who was able even then to cry out, “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world !” and who had already found in Christ the friend and bridegroom of his soul. During this period, John the Baptist was most assuredly the greatest of the followers of Christ ; but there came a time when even the least among the Christians was greater than John; and it commenced on the great day whose remembrance we solemnize by the festival of Whit-Sunday-I mean the day of Pentecost. Now, for the first time, that which our Lord expressed by the words," the kingdom of heaven,” was actually to be seen upon earth : the newtestament church came into existence; and it was those who were, spiritually speaking, born on the Feast of Pentecost, to whom our Lord referred in the expression, “he that is least in the kingdom of heaven.” How deep, and at the same time how true, do his words now appear! for, in all respects, the humblest brother in this newly-founded church stood higher than John. But methinks I hear you inquire, Was the church of the faithful different then from what it was previously? It was so in more than one respect. The Holy Spirit, as well as Christ himself, now stood in quite a new and different relation to believers; and it naturally followed that the life of those men, spiritually as well as externally, should also assume a new and different form. That new thing which, according to the ancient prophets, the Lord was to do upon earth, was now accomplished; for a church similar to that which had just sprung into existence, had never before been seen upon earth. Of this we shall easily convince ourselves, by contemplating, for a few moments, the first Christian community at Jerusalem. The first
thing which arrests our attention, is the efficacy of the Holy Spirit exemplified in a new manner, showing the commencement of a new period in God's government. The form and manner of the church's establishment is new : the spiritual and external life of its members has a new aspect; and their spiritual influence upon others is
I. Has any thing more beautiful taken place since the beginning of the world, than the glorious planting of the word which we contemplate to-day? The life of heaven seems indeed to have established its dwelling-place in this vale of tears. A community, dedi. cated to God, consisting of three thousand souls ; but a community such as neither Moses, Elias, nor any of the ancient saints had ever beheld. Alas! the country where this living memorial of the grace of God and of the creative power of his Holy Spirit once stood, is now waste and desert, surrounded by the confusion of Babel and the barbarism of the crescent; and what is still more melancholy, this flower-garden of earth has entirely disappeared, and nowhere is to be found any thing approaching to the beauty and glory in which it flourished at first in Jerusalem. The church of our times, in comparison to the apostolic, resembles a field whose yerdure has been dried up
and withered ; the model of this temple of God, however, still remains preserved to us. It has not only been saved from oblivion in the writings of the apostles, but the hand of God is always depicting it in fresh colours. Not only does the Almighty continue to build according to this beautiful model ; but, in the same fashion that glorious building will be erected whose image is already faintly discernible in the mirror of prophecy, whose golden pillars shall extend from pole to pole, and whose circumference shall span the whole earth, from the rising up of the sun to its going down. It must, therefore, be of the greatest importance for us to contemplate the original form of the church of Christ, and to examine minutely the peculiar character of the first Christian community.
Even the manner in which this church was founded may well surprise us. Whether we contemplate the instruments who effected it, the means which the pouring out of the Holy Spirit called into existence, the rapidity with which the building proceeded, or the foundation on which this beautiful temple was erected, we must indeed confess that nothing similar had ever taken place before, and that a new era had most certainly begun. The instrument who effected this was, as you are aware, a poor fisherman from the Galilean sea,-a man whose mind had beer. formed in no prophetic school, much less exercised in the task of converting and instructing; and who had been, only a few short days before, so poor in spirit, so ignorant, and so unqualified for speaking, that at first sight Simon seemed the most unfit to be entrusted with the establishment of a new church, particularly one which was to be formed from such stubborn materials as an antichristian community. And yet it is this same Simon, whose tongue, like an all-powerful sceptre, lays three thousand souls prostrate in the dust at the feet of Jes and commences a complete revolution in the