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God the Holy Ghost visits the Apostles in a wonderful and miraculous Manner. The Apostles, being filled with the Spirit, speak divers Languages, The Astonishment of the Multitude. Peter's Sermon; and the Conversion of three thousand Souls.
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
The day of Pentecost was fifty days from the Passover. It was the second of those three great festivals in the Jewish Church, when all the males of Israel were enjoined to appear before the Lord, Deuteronomy 16:16 . This was the feast, which was to be observed before the people began their harvest; it being unlawful to enter upon their harvest, until this feast to the Lord had been observed. See Leviticus 23:10-11 . This was the sacred day, which God the Holy Ghost was pleased to appoint, for the more open manifestation of himself to the Church. And, as God the Son, in our nature, made the voluntary offer of himself in sacrifice, at the Jewish Passover; the first great feast among his people, being our Passover, and the Lamb, slain from the foundation of the world: 1 Corinthians 5:7 ; Revelation 13:8 . So God the Holy Ghost, consecrated this second feast to the gracious purpose, of assuming, in a more open manner, his Almighty ministry in his Church, by coming down in state, in a visible manifestation, on his Apostles: and from that hour to the present, and through all ages of the Church, to the consummation of all things, the Lord the Spirit, carries on all the efficiency of grace, in the hearts of the people, until grace is finished in glory. In this ever memorable and blessed day, the Apostles, (and it is probable the seventy, spoken of, Luke 10:1 , or perhaps the whole hundred and twenty, spoken of in Acts 1:15 , formed the complete assembly,) were all with one accord met together, waiting in expectation, the sure promise of Jesus, Chapter one and verse five (Acts 1:5 ) Reader! pause, and contemplate, the sacred hour; and the holy solemnity of such a congregation! Oh! that the Lord would cause the review of such a season, and such an assembly, to operate upon the minds of the Lord's people now, that wherever two or three are met together, in the Lord's name, they might wait, in the humble frame, of sure expectation, of the Lord's presence, Matthew 28:20 ; Isaiah 41:1 .
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. (3) And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
As this open display of God the Holy Ghost in the Church, after the ascension of Jesus, is among the most momentous doctrines of our holy faith, and the proper apprehension of it, is, of all others, the most interesting, I persuade myself that the Reader will grant me a more than usual indulgence, to dwell upon it particularly. And I am free to confess, that, according to my view of things, it is to our ignorance and inattention on this blessed part of the Gospel, is to be ascribed the lamentable state of Churches, (and even some Churches professing all the truths of our holy faith,) so confessedly destitute, as for the most part they are, of vital godliness. For surely, if God the Holy Ghost, in his Almighty ministry, be not known nor enjoyed, if his Person and Godhead, if his covenant-office work and character, his influences and graces, be kept in the back ground of the ordinances, be those ordinances ever so sweet in themselves, or ever so frequently observed by the people, there must be great leanness of soul amidst the whole of them. It matters not what the minister saith, if we hear not what the Spirit saith to the Churches, Rev_2:11; Rev_2:17; Rev_2:29 , etc.
The first thing I beg the Reader to observe with me in what is said in those verses, is, the manner which God the Holy Ghost was pleased to make use of, to manifest his Almighty presence. It was with sovereign strength, and by effects making known both his person, and eternal power, and Godhead. And, surely, if anything could be supposed to identify both person and power, this display of Himself, by a sound from heaven, a rushing mighty wind, and filling the whole space occupied by the disciples, these were full demonstrations of both.
And here I stop the Reader, to remark the glory by which God the Holy Ghost was pleased to manifest himself to the Church, for the first time after Christ's ascension. He had presided over the Church from the first moment he formed the Church, and numberless instances are on record of his Almighty agency, both on the Person of Christ, the great Head of his Church, and the Church, Christ's members, all along the way the Church was brought through the whole of the Old Testament dispensation. Hence Christ was called by that name before his incarnation, and the Lord Jesus, by the spirit of prophecy, so described himself ages before he was born, Isaiah 61:1 , etc. And as the Lord the Spirit anointed the head, so did he shed abroad his influences in the hearts of his members. See Numbers 11:16-17 ; Nehemiah 9:20 ; Ezekiel 2:2 , etc. But now the Lord the Spirit will make an open manifestation of himself, and enter with state and dignity upon his blessed office, as Lord of Christ's Church, now Jesus, having finished redemption-work, is returned to glory. So that the whole efficiency of salvation, in the heart of every individual member of Christ's mystical body, becomes his province, according to covenant-engagements. Reader! I pray you to ponder well the subject, for it is well worthy the most animated consideration, of the Lord's people. Let you and I both look up for the testimonies in our own hearts of His divine teaching, for every view of His Almighty agency in the Church of whom I am now speaking is blessed.
When the Reader hath duly considered these things, I would beg of him next to observe what a beautiful order and harmony there is shewn in the joint acts of the Holy Three in One, as relating to the Church, now fulfilled by this manifestation of God the Spirit at the day of Pentecost. God the Father, in his covenant-office and character, through the Old Testament dispensation, had all along been manifesting his everlasting love to the Church, in proclaiming the Person, Work, and Glory of his dear Son; and under the New Testament dispensation, when Christ appeared, he confirmed the same by a voice from heaven, in a public and audible manner, in the presence of the people, declaring the identity of Jesus, by saying, this is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, Matthew 3:17 ; Luke 9:35 ; John 12:28 . God the Son, before his openly tabernacling in substance of our flesh, is expressly said to have been in the Church in the wilderness, when he spake to Moses in the Mount Sinai with our fathers, for so Stephen, when filled with the Holy Ghost, and speaking therefore under the influence of his divine teaching, declared, Acts 7:37-38 , and which, by the way, it may be observed, throws a light on many other parts of the Old Testament Scripture, in proof that it was Christ who all along manifested himself as the Shechinah to the Church. So that when the fulness of time was come, and the Son of God was to make his open appearance in our nature, he came as God manifest in the flesh, entered upon, and finished his office-work of redemption, and returned to glory. See Genesis 32:24; Genesis 32:24 , &c; Exodus 24:9 to the end. And God the Holy Ghost, thought he had all along presided over the Church, (which he himself founded,) during the whole of the Old Testament dispensation, yet now comes at the day of Pentecost in an open manifestation of himself, in his Person, Godhead, and Ministry, and makes himself known as the Almighty Teacher in the Church, to render the whole effectual of salvation-work in the hearts of his people. See 1 Peter 1:10-11 ; 2 Peter 1:21 ; Hebrews 9:1-8 . And wherefore all these glorious manifestations of each divine person, and all but to testify to the Church that the whole Godhead is alike concerned, and alike entitled to the adoration, love, obedience, and praise of the whole Church of Jesus, for their joint favor to the Church before all worlds, in her present time-state on earth, and her everlasting happiness to all eternity.
I do not think it necessary in a work of this kind to enter into a critical enquiry concerning the appearances here made by the Holy Ghost. It will be sufficient to remark that the whole plainly proved the Lord the Spirit's personal presence, his Almighty power and ministry in his government over the Church. The suddenness of it implied how unexpected the manifestations of his grace are in all instances. The direction coming from heaven, proved that the blessed Spirit is from above, agreeably to Scripture, James 1:17 . The sound, as of crushing mighty wind, was in exact conformity to what the Lord Jesus had before said, when speaking of the work of God the Holy Ghost, whose operations are like the unknown and unexplored source of the air, which bloweth where it listeth, John 3:8 , See Commentary there. The appearances of cloven tongues, like as of fire, were suitable to denote his presence, who is a Spirit of judgment, and q Spirit of burning. Isaiah 4:4 . And their sitting upon the head of each of them, graciously taught, that where the Lord the Spirit came, he would abide forever. So the Lord Jesus taught his disciples to expect, and, blessed be God, so his people know, John 14:16-17 . But what I would yet more particularly beg the Reader to notice, from all these different manifestations, is, that they all proved the Person, Godhead, and Ministry of the Holy Ghost. And I beg of him to observe, that this manifestation at Pentecost was as folly and decidedly in proof of God the Holy Ghost's office-work in the covenant, (as far as an open appearance became necessary,) as the personal appearance of the Son of God manifest in the flesh, was for his part in this mysterious work. The one is as demonstrative as the other. Reader! do not hastily pass away from meditating on these things. Carry them about with you wherever you go, as so many credentials of your faith, in the present awful day of infidelity with which the Church of God is surrounded.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
I beg the Reader, while attending to what is here said of the disciples being filled with the Holy Ghost, to observe, that it doth not mean to imply they had not been in a state of regeneration before. Very evident it is, that the Apostles to whom Jesus addressed himself in his farewell Sermon, were at that time acquainted with the gracious influences of the Spirit, and consequently regenerated. It the Reader will consult what the Lord then said respecting the Holy Ghost, in their knowledge of Him, and of his dwelling with them, and being in them, he will perceive that these things implied a state of grace different from the world, John 14:16-17 . But the being filled with the Holy Ghost, as is here spoken of, meant (what the Lord Jesus had taught them to expect, and to wait for at Jerusalem,) their ordination to the ministry. This was the blessed work wrought at Pentecost. And now, ordained by God the Holy Ghost, their mouths were opened to declare among the people the unsearchable riches of Christ. If the Reader would wish to see similar instances of this holy ordination, he may behold them in the case of several of the Lord's servants, Isaiah 6:7-10 ; Jeremiah 1:0 throughout; Ezekiel 2:0 ; Acts 13:2-4 . See the Commentary on this last scripture.
I take occasion from hence to observe the difference between regeneration, which is essential to every child of God for his personal enjoyment of an union and interest with Christ, and the unction of the Holy Ghost, when calling his sent servants to the ministry. For, though the Lord calls none to the ministry but whom he hath first called by grace, as is evident in the instance of the Apostles, yet multitudes are savingly called by regeneration for their own personal happiness in Christ, whom God the Holy Ghost never sends forth as his ministers. A man being regenerated is no authority for ministering in the word and doctrine. And to run unsent, is a solemn thing, Jeremiah 23:20 ; Hebrews 5:4 .
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. (6) Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. (7) And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? (8) And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? (9) Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, (10) Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, (11) Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
It is well worthy the observation of the Reader, how the Lord, by the ordinary method of his providence, overruled this event, that it should take place at this particular season, to render it more public to the world. As the death and resurrection of Christ took place at the first great Jewish feast, the Passover, so the first coming of the Holy Ghost, in this signal and open display of divine power, should take place at the second great feast of Pentecost, Hence both were so admirably timed, that multitudes from all parts, which came up for the sake of trade, at those Jewish feasts at Jerusalem, should be eye and ear witnesses to the Lord's glory. Reader! think of these things, and learn to reverence and adore the Lord, both in the appointments of his providences, as well as in the manifestations of his grace.
The consternation occasioned in Jerusalem by these prodigies, may be better conceived than described. Let the Reader figure to himself those poor humble fishermen of Galilee, the natives of a little despised city, whose inhabitants were dull and unlearned, even to a proverb, (John 1:46 .) let him fancy that he beholds one Apostle speaking to a Parthian, another to a Mede, another to an Elamite, without the help of an interpreter, as had always been done before; and let him call to mind that the Apostles addresses were not of earthly things, but of the wonderful works of God, and then let him pause and ponder over the Almighty ministry of God the Spirit! Here were no less than fifteen different nations of the earth brought together on this occasion, and all of them distinguished by a different language. And to these different nations those poor, humble, untaught fishermen of Galilee, were at once qualified to talk on the great things of God in their own mother tongue in which they were born with the greatest fluency of language! What will the Reader say to these things? What less could it be than the power of God, and the wisdom of God, speaking in them and by them to the blessed purposes of salvation? Jesus had said that his disciples should speak with new tongues. And here we see the Lord's promise fulfilled, Mark 16:17 . And, Reader! shall not you and I depend upon the promises of Jesus?
I beg to call the Reader's attention to one beauty as discoverable in this miracle, which perhaps in the first view may not so immediately strike him; I mean the wonderful circumstance with which God the Holy Ghost here begun his ministry, in restoring to his servants, the Apostles, the use of tongues, which was made confusion in the first instance at the building of Babel. In the early world, when the Sin of men taught rebellion against God, the Lord confounded their language. Before this, the whole earth was of one language, and one speech, Genesis 11:1-9 . And it was God's own language. It was sacred. It was divine. And no doubt it was a blessing to mankind. For it not only promoted a general intercourse and good will between man and man, but being the sacred language, it tended to preserve the knowledge of the Lord throughout the earth. But, when for sin man lost this privilege, what difficulties for apprehension must have occurred? But, who should have thought, that in the designs and stores of omnipotency, the Lord would have made this sin of man the very foundation of bringing forth greater mercy, and have made that which sprung out of evil to become the very means of greater good? And yet so it was. This miracle of enabling the Apostles to speak various languages in a moment of time, would never have had an opportunity for display, had not the tower of Babel, and the confusion of tongues taken place. So that here, as in a thousand instances beside, the Lord overrules the unworthiness of his creatures to his glory, and renders their weakness the means of manifesting his strength. Oh! the depths of the riches both of the wisdom, and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out, Romans 11:33 .
And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? (13) Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
I detain the Reader over these two verses, just to call his attention to the very different effects here described, which were wrought upon the minds of the different characters beholding this miracle. Pause, Reader, at the view. What but divine teaching could have made this difference? Here is one set of men struck with awe at the wonderful works of God. And here is another attempting to turn the solemn work of God the Spirit into ridicule. One praising God; and another blaspheming. And yet the work is the same. And is it not so now? Do not some mock, while others pray? Some laugh, while others mourn? Both not the same Gospel, the same preacher, produce these different effects? Reader! do you not know it? Have you never seen it? 2 Corinthians 2:15-16 . And, Reader! depend upon it, such is, and must be the case forever. If the devils in hell were liberated from their chains, devils they would still be. Nothing short of Almighty grace could make a change. If the Reader would see an awful representation of this, let him read what is said under the fourth and fifth vials poured out upon the seat of the beast. Revelation 16:8-11
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: (15) For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. (16) But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; (17) And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: (18) And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: (19) And I will show wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke: (20) The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: (21) And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (22) Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: (23) Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: (24) Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it. (25) For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: (26) Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: (27) Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption. (28) Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance. (29) Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. (30) Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; (31) He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. (32) This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. (33) Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. (34) For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, (35) Until I make thy foes thy footstool. (36) Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
There must have been somewhat very striking, when Peter and the eleven all arose at once, as if (and which indeed was the case,) all animated by a supernatural power, to refute the foul calumny of drunkenness. And I beg the Reader to remark with me, how mildly the Apostle expostulated with their accusers, appealing to their own principles of religion, in proof of the falseness of what they had said, seeing it was now but the third hour of the day, namely, nine of the clock in the morning, the well-known hour of the morning sacrifice; before which, and especially on the Sabbath, which this was, it became unlawful for any of the seed of Abraham to indulge in bodily refreshment. Compare Numbers 28:1-10 with Exodus 12:16 . Reader! so will every preacher, yea, every child of God, mildly reason with opposers, when under the blessed influences of God the Holy Ghost, 2 Timothy 2:24-25 .
I am constrained by the limits I must observe, from entering very largely into a Commentary upon this sweet Sermon of the Apostles. For the text which Peter took from the prophecy of Joel, I refer to some few observations I have already offered in my Poor Man's Commentary on the place. And in addition to what is there proposed, I would here remark, that by the all flesh the Prophet speaks of, and the Apostle comments upon, cannot be supposed to mean all mankind; but as other Scriptures explain the phrase, all God's people in all places; and not confined, as the early Prophets had supposed to be the case, to the people of Judaea. Thus Haggai, when speaking of Christ, calls him the desire of all nations, Haggai 2:7 , meaning the desire of his people in all nations. So Christ, when speaking of the world, God so loved the world, that all that believe in him, etc. meaning believers throughout the world, John 3:16 . That the phrase must be understood in this sense, is evident, from what is said in other parts of scripture concerning the world, which cannot receive the Spirit of truth, and for whom Christ doth not pray. See John 14:17 and John 17:9-10 .
Let me particularly request the Reader to observe how Peter speaks of his divine Lord. A man he calleth him approved of God, among them by miracles and wonders as they knew. But while a man, truly and properly so, (for otherwise he could not have been the seed of the woman promised, Genesis 3:15 .) yet, as truly and properly God, whom the pains of death could not hold, because (saith Peter,) it was not possible that he should be holden of it. Reader! what higher demonstrations can be wished in proof of Godhead. Surely common sense must say, that had he not been God, the pains of death and the power of the grave must have held him, as they would hold any man, and make every man a prisoner. But, in the person of the God-man Christ Jesus, it was not possible, that he who was both God and man should be holden of either. And, as another Apostle saith, and under the same authority, Jesus was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead, Romans 1:4 . How very blessed and precious are both testimonies to the union of the nature of God and man, in the person of our Lord !
I request the Reader's attention to another beautiful part in Peter's sermon. He saith, that Christ was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, when crucified and slain by wicked hands. Oh! what a very blessed relation is here, to the truth as it is in Jesus? For what can be more blessed to every child of God, while rejoicing in hope of the glory of God, through the blood and righteousness of Christ as a Savior; than to see the hand of Jehovah in the appointment? In this united point of view, God our Redeemer's full equivalent sacrifice for sin, (yea, more than equivalent, as a ransom for the sins of all his people,) we find a blessed plea before the mercy-seat in all our approaches there; in that we find all the strength necessary to make it blessed, because it is also from the appointment and ordination of Jehovah. Hence, we not only plead on the footing of Christ's blood and righteousness; but we plead, when we plead rightly, the Lord's appointment of it, and his approbation and pleasure in the Almighty work. Is it not sweet then, yea, very sweet, to bear back to the throne, what comes first from the throne, and to tell our God and Father, what our God and Father hath first told us; that it was Jehovah which bruised our glorious Head, and put him to grief, when he made his soul an offering for sin; that it was Jehovah which laid on Him the iniquities of us all, when by the determinate counsel of God, by wicked hands he was taken, and crucified, and slain? And, that the hand of the Lord was first in the great work, when Jesus was delivered for our offences, and raised again for our justification? Reader! what correspondence is there from the teachings of God the Holy Ghost, in your heart with these things? Oh! the blessedness of being able to join the voice of Old Testament saints, now we have seen the accomplishment of the whole to New Testament believers, and say as they did, Behold, 0 God! our shield, and look upon the face of thine anointed? Happy the man, who amidst all the remains of indwelling corruption within, and the ungodly world without, the demands of law and justice, and all the accusations of Satan, can, and doth, go daily to the pardon office of Jesus Christ, pleading his blood and righteousness, and Jehovah's covenant promises, the joint security of everlasting salvation. See Isaiah 53:5-6 ; Romans 4:25 ; Psalms 84:9 .
Let me beg the Reader not to overlook the mercy and love of God the Holy Ghost, in another sweet part of Peter's sermon, namely, the explanation of the sixteenth Psalm, in direct reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. There can be no doubt from the manner in which Peter spake upon it, in begging permission to speak freely of the Patriarch David, but that the Jews of those days, considered that Psalm as written by David, in allusion to himself. What a blessed scripture, therefore, it is, to have it thus explained with an eye to Christ, and from such authority. And may we not observe that from the illustration of this Psalm, we derive information upon many other occasions of a similar nature, to make application to Christ? Reader! do not forget to notice Peter's appeal from the whole, to the hearts and minds of his hearers. How affectionate, yet how faithful the Apostle is. Let them know, (saith he,) even the whole house of Israel, what the result of this wonderful event is. To Jesus shall every knee bow. He whom ye crucified, is now the Almighty and everlasting Lord of heaven and of earth! Reader! behold the bold, the undaunted Apostle! Oh! what did grace accomplish in him! And why not in you, or me? Lord! the Spirit! do thou in thy rich mercy make thy servants faithful! Speak, Lord, in them and by them, and let all whom thou hast sent, do the work of Evangelists, and make full proof of their ministry!
Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? (38) Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (39) For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. (40) And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
Behold the wonderful grace of God, as here manifested! How sudden, how powerful, how gracious! Surely, the Lord the Spirit here wrought by his Almighty sovereignty, on the hearts of those Jerusalem sinners. And, was not this in proof of what Jesus had said and promised? John 14:12; John 14:12 . But, let not the Reader forget, that the same Lord still carrieth on the same works of grace, and is as much the Almighty Lord in his Church, as ever!
And I pray the Reader to remark with me, the characters of those, to whom such grace was shewn. No doubt from what Peter said, (verse 23; Acts 2:23 ) that many of those who were now pricked in their heart, were among those who joined the rabble, to crucify the Lord of life and glory. Oh! who that knew these wonderful events, but must have exclaimed, what hath God wrought! The Reader will probably recollect, upon this occasion, some of these scriptures, Hosea 6:5 ; Hebrews 4:12 ; Jeremiah 23:29 .
It is well worthy observation, how very natural it is with sinners of all descriptions and characters, under the first alarms of sin, to cry out, what must I do to be saved! Every carnal mind is for doing, although all his life past he hath done nothing but sin. But, such is the pride of human nature in an unhumbled, unregenerate state, John 6:28 ; Acts 16:30; Acts 16:30 .
The Apostle's answer to their anxious question, deserves to be well attended to, when saying to them, repent and be baptized. Did Peter mean to say, that repentance was in every man's power to perform? Surely the Apostle could not, for in a subsequent discourse before the Jewish council, he expressly ascribes the work to Christ. Him, (saith Peter,) hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins, Acts 5:30-31 . What, therefore, is Christ's gift, cannot be man's work. And, moreover, Peter commanded them to repent, and then to be baptized, that they might receive the gifts of the Holy Ghost. So that the repentance Peter enjoined, was to go before the gifts of the Holy Ghost, and not to follow, And so the Prophet in the Lord's name promised, in the latter day dispensation, to pour out a spirit of grace, and of supplication; and then godly mourning and true sorrow should follow, in prompting them to look to Him whom they had pierced, Zechariah 12:10 . Hence it should seem, that the repentance Peter called upon them to perform, differed from that which is the gift of God.
And it is worthy remark, that Christ, and his harbinger, John the Baptist, preached the same, Matthew 3:1 and Matthew 4:17 . And no doubt there is a repentance, which is simply the sorrow of nature, arising from natural causes, and produced by natural means; and which differs as widely from the spiritual sorrow of the heart, inwrought by the Holy Ghost, by reason of sin; as the rain of pools which dry up for want of supply, from the water of the fountain, which forms a living spring in the heart, springing up to everlasting life. Every carnal mind upon earth, more or less, knows this repentance; for when sin brings sickness, and sickness threatens death, the sinner will naturally repent his folly. Peter calls upon those Jerusalem sinners, to repent of their wickedness, in their false views of Christ and his Messiahship; and in testimony of that sorrow, to be baptized in his name for the remission of sins, and to receive gifts of the Holy Ghost.
I beg to observe on the form of baptism enjoined by Peter, that it differed from what the Lord Jesus himself appointed, when giving his final commission to the Apostles. This of Peter was to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. That of Christ himself was in the joint name of the whole three Persons of the Godhead, Matthew 28:19 . But here lay the difference. The Jews to whom Peter addressed himself, had hitherto denied the Person and Godhead of Christ as the Messiah. They acknowledged God the Father; and believed in the Spirit, as speaking in, and by the Prophets. So that by following what Peter commanded of being baptized in the name of Jesus Christ, implied also the whole Persons of the Godhead as included. But Christ's commission to his Apostles, had respect to the Gentiles, who were alike ignorant of all the Persons of the Godhead: and therefore the Lord mentioned all.
One observation more I beg to offer on this most precious sermon of the Apostles, namely, the sure consequences Peter promised, in the gifts of the Holy Ghost; that is, I apprehend, all the saving gifts of the Spirit necessary to salvation. Not the more special operations of the Holy Ghost needful to the Apostolic office, but only such, as suited their own personal sanctification. For had all these, received miraculous qualifications for the ministry the Apostles needed not, as they soon afterwards did, to recommend the Church to look out seven men of honest report, to exercise the office of deacons, Acts 6:3 . And in relation to the promise of the Holy Ghost, how sweetly the Apostle finished the subject, in shewing the extensiveness of it, while bounded by the Lord's call. So ran the charter of grace, in the original Covenant with Abraham, Genesis 17:7 . So the Lord confirmed it in the days of the Prophets: Isaiah 44:3 and Isaiah 49:21 . And so all the after ages of the Church found it, both Jew and Gentile, subject to the divine call, Psalms 103:3 . Oh! the preciousness of a Covenant, ordered in all things and sure, 2 Samuel 23:5 ; Galatians 3:28 .
Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. (42) And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (43) And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. (44) And all that believed were together, and had all things common; (45) And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. (46) And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, (47) Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
Here we have the gracious, arid blissful consequences resulting from the whole, in the powerful operations of God the Holy Ghost, by the instrumentality of Peter's Sermon. Three thousand Souls, savingly converted on the spot, to the knowledge and love of Jesus! What a specimen, in the first fruits of the Holy Ghost's descending, of what in the after harvest the Lord the Spirit would gather in, to the Church of God! And behold, what continued evidences followed, to the compleatness of the work. A stedfast continuing in doctrine; and a continued observance of ordinances. And while those who received the Holy Ghost, in his gifts and graces received all that was needful to their private sanctification; the Apostles received the power of working miracles, in proof of their public ministry. An holy fear came upon all beholders. The most unbounded charity brake out among all the faithful. The temple, or private house; the public assembly, or the private meeting; all resounded with the adorable name of Jesus. And so much of God appeared in all the deportment of those holy men, at this most blessed season, that it was one continued festival. And Jehovah in his threefold character of Person, gave such testimony to the word of his grace, that daily the Lord called his own from darkness to light, and from the power of sin and Satan to the living God. Oh! blessed Pentecost of a blessed God! Lord! grant in this latter day of thy Church a renewed Pentecost to manifest thy glory!
Blessed be God; Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, for all the blessings vouchsafed the Church, in all the Covenant purposes, before all worlds: and for all the mercies in the time-state of the Church, through all dispensations. Oh! blessed hour, when Jesus, having finished redemption-work, returned to glory; and God the Holy Ghost came down, to render effectual his great salvation! Do thou blessed holy Lord, still vouchsafe thy Pentecost-days to thy Church; until, not only three thousand souls, but thousands of thousands, yea, everyone to whom this promise is made, to all that are afar off, and to all that are nigh, even as many as the Lord our God shall call, shall know the joyful sound, and walk in the light of thy divine countenance!
Ye ministers of my God! seek for the daily proofs of your Apostle-ship, in the anointings, and ordination of the Lord's Pentecost visits! And ye, no less, of the Lord's people, who have hitherto lived, unconscious of the resurrection of Jesus, from any saving testimony of it in your hearts; be on the lookout for those ascension-gifts of a risen and exalted Savior, whose gracious act it is, to give repentance to Israel, and remission of sins. Oh! for the out-pouring of the Spirit upon all the Lord's redeemed ones, that there may be daily added to the Church, such as should be saved.
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Acts 2". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30