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THE HOLY GHOST FALLS UPON THE GENTILES.
God is light! and God is love! says the Holy Scripture,—thereby expressing, in the simplest manner, the highest and most joyful intelligence which could be conveyed to man, of the nature and character of God. Light and love cannot exist without manifesting themselves, without enlivening, illuminating, and creating new light and love; and this is the very essence of their character. But what benefit do we derive from knowing the nature of God, if we do not feel and acknowldge both our dependence upon him, and the mighty influence he is constantly exerting upon us ? The word of truth has assisted us in this, by disclosing, in the mysterious name of Trinity, the three persons of the Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This revelation of three persons in one God, comprehends the whole of Christian doctrine, and is both the foundation and the distinguishing characteristic of our faith. Our Lord Jesus himself, after his work on earth was perfected, and before he re-ascended to his glory, expressly declared it in the following words, 'Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,' Matt. xxviii. 19. And John
"There are three that bear record in
heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one,' 1 John v.7; and, indeed, all the Apostles bear witness to the same truth.
This truth, which it is impossible for human language clearly to express, is a mystery which, in its depth of meaning, is as far beyond human comprehension as heaven is higher than the earth. It is a secret which has been in part disclosed to us; and has two aspects, one in relation to God, and the other to man. The divine aspect can as little be understood as the character of God can be comprehended; and happily for us, it is not necessary for our salvation. We do not require to know the nature and structure of the sun in order to enjoy its light; nor to understand the connection between soul and body, in order to believe in their exist
The three divine names, 'Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,' make known to us the whole history of God among the children of men; they comprehend the mighty deed and manifestations of the love of God, which he decreed from the beginning for our salvation; which he has begun in time, but which shall be accomplished in eternity.
In the one living God, we must acknowledge the Father, who chose us from all eternity, pre-ordained us to be his children, and created us in his own image ;the Son, who became man for our sakes, and, by his sufferings and crucifixion, redeemed us from sin and death; and the Holy Spirit, who, as the pledge of our redemption, sanctifies and renews us in the image of God; in short, one God in three persons, to whom we owe three inestimable blessings, election, redemption,
and sanctification. The Apostle Paul comprehends all in his benediction at the end of 2d Corinthians, The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all! Amen.'
God's great work of love, in the manifestation of himself in the flesh, and in the visible appearance of his grace, was accomplished in the pouring out of the Holy Spirit; and it is only the power of that Spirit which can perfect the heart-felt union of the faithful with the Father through the Son. No man can call Jesus, Lord, without the Holy Spirit; and this Spirit bears witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. This testimony the believing Cornelius was now to receive.
• While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on
all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.'-Acts x. 44–46.
This section describes the operation and consequences, both of the sermon of the Apostle Peter, and of the faithful reception of the Gospel by Cornelius, his relations and friends. In this simple picture we behold a regenerated life in Christ, awakened by the gift of the Holy Ghost.
When Peter had uttered these words, and, probably,
would have continued his sermon, he was interrupted, -it was enough. He had preached the Gospel, and the man through whom God had announced peace in Jesus, the crucified and risen again; and in his name he had promised to all that believe on him forgiveness of sins.
His own commission was fulfilled; and the wish of Cornelius, “to hear words of thee,' was gratified. Cornelius and his friends had been deeply moved; they had listened to the words of the holy Apostle with increasing solemnity and devotion; and the Lord now opened the hearts of the little assembly, who, like Lydia the purple-seller, were seeking after peace and truth. The Word, the beginning and the instrument of every act of God, had, like an immortal seed, taken root in their hearts, and now needed only a blessing from above to be rendered fruitful by the Holy Spirit. We behold here a new feast of Pentecost
the heathen, for why should not they also be baptized with fire? The time was come when the word of reconciliation was to spread through the whole world; when the wall of partition was to be broken down, the enmity abolished, and the Gospel of peace preached to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.' This was the purpose for which our Lord came, and for the accomplishment of which, he promised his disciples to send them the Comforter, the invisible representative of himself. He was to lead them in the way of truth, manifest to them still more clearly the Lord Jesus, and give them power and wisdom in the offices to which God had called them. In Jerusalem, at the feast of
Pentecost, this promise was gloriously fulfilled. The Apostles, filled with the Holy Spirit, in the neighborhood of Golgotha, and in the presence of the supreme council, preached Jesus of Nazareth, the crucified and risen one, as the Lord to whom all power is given, both in heaven and in earth. And the consequence of this wonderful act of the power of God was, that in one day about three thousand, and soon afterwards five thousand, souls believed and were baptized. In this manner the new birth of the world began, by the power of the Holy Spirit manifested in the Apostles. The Lord was the Spirit, and the Spirit was the Lord.
The promise of the Holy Ghost was made, not only to the disciples who had followed the person of Jesus Christ, but to all, far and near, who should repent and believe in his name. When Peter and John prayed, and laid their hands on those who had received the word of God in Samaria, they each received the gift of the Holy Spirit; but our Centurion and his household were deemed worthy of a peculiar privilege; for without prayer, or the laying on of the Apostles' hands, they received the Holy Ghost. Peter himself, when blamed by the Jews for preaching to the Gentiles, relates it in the following words: “As I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us, at the beginning,' chap. ii. 15.
And this beginning, namely, that which took place among the disciples at the feast of Pentecost, was the same which Cornelius and his friends experienced.
Here we must take the shoes from off our feet; for the place whereon we stand is holy ground, and we are surrounded by the mysteries of the house of God.