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THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER SENT.
ST. LUKE XXIV. 49.
Behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you.
This day was this Scripture fulfilled. It was on the tenth day after He had so spoken—the tenth after His Ascension, that the Lord Jesus Christ did as He had said-sent the promise of His Father upon His Churchpoured down the gift of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles whom He had chosen. We read in our service of the wonderful outpouring of the Spirit. The Apostles were gathered together in Jerusalem, expecting the fulfilment of their Lord's parting promise. It was the day of Pentecost, and they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them, and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So did the Holy Ghost come down at the beginning;
so were Christ's Apostles endued visibly and instantaneously with power from on high. There was a sound in the sky—the rush of a mighty wind; there was the appearance of fiery tongues on the Apostles' heads, and together with these outward tokens of unusual power, they received, and it would seem ever afterwards possessed, the marvellous faculty of speaking in tongues they had never learnt-speaking so as to be understood by the groups of many nations from all parts of the world congregated at that feast.—No less than seventeen different nations are enumerated, who had representatives at that time in Jerusalem, and these all, we are told, did hear the Apostles speak in their own tongue wherein they were born the wonderful works of God!
From that day to this the Church of Christ has observed Whit-Sunday as the anniversary of this great event. Just as we keep Christmas in honour of our Lord's birth-Easter in honour of His resurrection-so do we keep this day, year by year, in commemoration of the descent of the Holy Ghost, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son-Whom Jesus Christ, when He went back, sent, as He had promised, from the Father.
The use of such an anniversary is great-it serves to remind us of God's goodness, and of our own responsibilities. We cannot now plead ignorance, as did the disciples at Ephesus, of the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. We who come to church on Whit-Sunday, if we only give attention to what is read, must at least know so much as this, that there is a Holy Ghost—that, besides the Father Who made us, the Son Who redeemed us, there is present with us in this lower world another
Person--the Spirit of might Who helpeth our infirmities, “Who sanctifieth” us, “and all the elect people of God.”
That this knowledge may be the more impressed upon our hearts, let us now look at some results which have followed from the coming of the Holy Ghost into the world—from the fulfilment of those words of my textBehold, I send the promise of my Father upon you.
One result has been the mighty and rapid growth of the word of God. The Gospel, which has now gone out into all lands, sprung from a very small beginning. There were at the first, about nineteen centuries ago, but twelve men to preach it; and those twelve were most of them-perhaps all-unlettered men. They were opposed by the wise and learned, by the rich and powerful of their countrymen; they were treated as impostors, as disorderly persons by the rulers, and forbidden to speak at all in the name of Jesus. But they were not to be put down: they continued to preach, and with such power, that none of their opponents were able to gainsay or resist them. Chains, imprisonment, torture, death, all that malice and hatred could devise or inflict was tried-but all in vain. The word spread and had a free course--it spread—beginning at Jerusalem, and going out over all the neighbouring countries. Theman who most sought to injure it was quickly changed into its chief herald. By his labours—the labours of St. Paul—the blessing was communicated to the heathen, and by them gladly received. At Ephesus, at Corinth, at Athens, at Rome-those great seats of ancient civilization--the centres of the old heathen idol worship-within the years of one
man's lifetime, the Gospel was proclaimed. The name of Jesus, whom Paul preached, acted like a spell upon the hearts of thousands. They turned from vanities to the living God. Multitudes, both of men and women, wherever he journeyed were added to the Lord,-So mightily grew the word of God, and prevailed.
And what made it grow? How can we account for the rapid spread of the Gospel, and the change it brought about in men's lives, belief, and conversationa change quite without parallel in the history of mankind ? How, I ask, are we to account for this ? Only by the miracle of Pentecost. It was God the Holy Ghost's doing. He gave to those first twelve Apostles the gift of tongues—and He gave, along with that gift, boldness, with fervent zeal, to preach the Gospel to all nations. But for Him-weak, timid, ignorant men, as they naturally were—they would have done nothing. They would never have preached the word, nor suffered for the word, nor persevered in labour as they did, had it not been that a new power was planted in them—had it not been that the Spirit of the Lord rested upon them —the Spirit of wisdom and understanding—the Spirit of counsel and might—the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. That was the secret of Apostles' success that is the explanation of the spread of Christ's Gospel at its beginning. It was not the Apostles by themselves who proclaimed it, but it was the Holy Ghost speaking in them which carried the Word home with conviction into the hearts of their hearers.
And as it was the Holy Ghost Who spoke by the mouth of the Apostles, so it was the Holy Ghost Who
wrote by their pen, and by the pen of the Evangelists. Be sure, brethren, that from first to last the publication of the Gospel-whether spoken, or written, or printed, is His work. Be sure that the Bible, our most precious inheritance, is a gift to us from Him-a gift given us to profit withal--not to be kept shut up, and opened only on rare occasions, but to be daily studied and digested, that it may make us wise unto salvation.
Again : look at another consequence of the Holy Ghost having come. Look at a good man's life—what is it that enables a man to live-I will not say up to the full mark of the Gospel standard, but to live in a way approaching to it? How shall we account for the good fruit which we sometimes see growing on the evil stock of our fallen nature ? Love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, faith, meekness, temperance,--these surely are not qualities that we have any great claim to by nature, and yet—God be thanked ! we see them produced amongst
We see persons who, in their conversation and intercourse with their fellows, are amiable, and loving, and kind-ready to forgive injuries, and to put up with affronts—who, when reviled, will not revile again ; who, when provoked with taunting words, give back the soft answer that turneth away wrath,—who, instead of being, --as we naturally are-selfish, and seekers only of what is pleasant to themselves, have learnt to deny themselves, and to care for others,—who have their bodies in subjection, their appetites under control,—who never give the rein to their passions, run into no excess of riot, but are constantly and habitually sober, temperate, and chaste,who in matters of religion are devout without hypocrisy,