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SEARCHER OF HEARTS, to chuse the fittest, by directing the lots; 4. when the lot fell upon Matthias, he was voted by the whole community, an associate with the eleven Apostles, (oVYKATεψηφίσθη,) Acts i. 15-26.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST, OR WHITSUNDAY.
This auspicious day was memorable for the first fruits of the Church, in the conversion of three thousand prejudiced Jews, to the faith of a crucified Saviour, only fifty-two days after his passion, and at Jerusalem itself, the scene of it!
The following is the short and simple account of the wondrous transaction which led to this conversion.
"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, [or about sun rise,] they were all assembled, with one accord, at the same place, [probably the coenaculum.] And suddenly there was a sound from the heaven, as of a blast of wind, rushing violently, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them, as it were, tongues on fire, [or tongue-like flames,] distributed among them; and there sate one upon each of them. And they were all filled with THE HOLY SPIRIT, and began to speak in other tongues, according as THE SPIRIT gave them utterance.
"And there were Jews sojourning at Jerusalem, devout persons, from every nation under the heaven, [who came to attend
2. In the election of Presbyters afterwards, in the several Churches, “after prayer and fasting, the Apostles commended them unto THE LORD, on whom they had believed," Acts xiv. 23. But that LORD was unquestionably CHRIST. This case, precisely in point, determines the question.
3. OUR LORD himself expressly and formally assumed the title, "And all the Churches shall know that I AM THE SEARCHER OF REINS AND HEARTS, and I will give to each of you according to your works," Rev. ii. 23. Compare Heb. iv. 12.
This decides the important question at issue hitherto, between Trinitarians and Unitarians, in favour of prayer immediately offered to CHRIST, as foretold Psalm lxxii. 15, and practised on the foregoing occasions; and by Paul also, when "he besought THE LORD thrice, that he might be relieved from some thorn in the flesh," who refused him, that " THE POWER OF CHRIST might be perfected in the infirmity of his Apostle,” 2 Cor. xii. 8-10.
The evangelical Liturgy of the Church of England, therefore, is fully warranted in offering prayer and supplication to CHRIST, jointly with THE FATHER, in the Litany, prayer of Chrysostom, Collect for the first Sunday in Lent, &c.
The original, diaμepiloμevai, incorrectly rendered "cloven," in the English Bible, Gilpin ingeniously conjectures, gave the idea to the form of the ancient episcopal mitres. The sitting or resting of these lambent flames upon the head of each, signified the permanence of the spiritual gift, now shed forth on the Apostles' company.
the feast of Pentecost;] and when this report was spread, the multitude assembled, [at the temple probably, with the disciples, on this most holy day,] and they were confounded, because every one of them heard the disciples speaking in their own dialect. And all were astonished, and wondered, saying to each other, Lo, are not all these that speak, Galileans? [who were vulgar and illiterate, even to a proverb ;] and how hear we them speaking, to each of us, in our own dialect, in which we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea, [Lydia,] and Cappadocia, Pontus, and Proconsular Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia; Egypt, and the regions of Libya, and about Cyrene; and Roman sojourners, native Jews, and Gentile proselytes; Cretes and Arabians; we do hear them speaking in our own tongues, the grand dispensations of GOD! And all were astonished and perplexed, saying to each other, What portendeth this?"
"But others, [inhabitants of Jerusalem, probably, who understood not these various languages and dialects,] mocking, said, These men are full of strong wine," or are drunken.
To repel the foul calumny of the latter hearers, and to solve the wonder and astonishment of the former, Peter, who continued to take the lead, addressed the multitude in a masterly discourse," lifting up his voice," with great readiness and boldness, in" the words of truth and soberness."
1. He exposed the absurdity and malignity of the charge of drunkenness at that early hour," the third of the day," or nine in the morning, and especially the very hour of the temple service, which the pious and devout attended fasting: as was Peter's own practice in his private devotions, Acts x. 9, 10.
2. He represented this stupendous gift of tongues, and of spiritual illumination, as the fulfilment of that copious effusion of THE SPIRIT OF GOD, upon all ranks and descriptions of the Jews, in the last days of the Mosaical dispensation, foretold by the Prophet Joel, (ii. 28, 29,) ver. 16-18.
3. He next reminded them of the dreadful signs and portents, foretold by the same prophet, (Joel ii. 30-32,) to precede the destruction of the impenitent and unbelieving part of the nation, in the great and terrible day of Divine vengeance. For their consolation, however, these denunciations were tempered with mercy, in the gracious promise of salvation, or deliverance, to
whosoever should call upon the name of THE LORD, with hearty repentance and true faith, ver. 19—21.
4. He then proceeds to unfold who that LORD and SAVIOUR was, that was meant in the prophecy; and this was no other than "JESUS OF NAZARETH," a person pointed out to them from GOD, by the miracles, and wonders, and signs, which GOD wrought by him in the midst of them, as they themselves knew; whom, notwithstanding, they, with wicked hands, had crucified and slain; unwittingly fulfilling the predetermined counsel and decree of GOD, ver. 22, 23.
5. But that God raised him again to life, fulfilling prophecy also, in the Psalms, "having loosed the toils * of death," (Psalm xviii. 5, cxvi. 3,) because he could not possibly be holden thereby, on account of his firm trust and confidence in GOD, his protector, that "HE would not leave his soul in Hades, nor suffer his HOLY ONE to see [fleshly] corruption; but would shew him the paths of life, and fill him with the delight of his countenance," (Psalm xvi. 8—11,) ver. 24-28.
6. He then finely explains to them the true drift of this prophecy, as relating to CHRIST'S resurrection, not to David, the Patriarch, who died, and was buried, and saw corruption, (Acts xiii. 36,) and his sepulchre was still subsisting among them; therefore he could not himself possibly be the subject of that prophecy, which he delivered by inspiration, ver. 29—31.
7. He next states the evidences of CHRIST'S resurrection, and also of his ascension, as inseparably linked and connected together, the former, as proved by the unanimous witness of the spectators, the Apostles and their company; the latter by the copious effusion of spiritual gifts and illuminations, fulfilling CHRIST'S promises, which they now actually beheld and heard, in the diversity of tongues in which they were addressed, and the grand dispensations of GOD, now unfolded to them, which he represented as an infallible proof of CHRIST'S exaltation, foretold also in the Psalms, "THE LORD said unto MY LORD, sit thou at my right hand," &c. (Psalm cx. 1,) which was not
The Hebrew term, (Hhebeli,) used in both these Psalms, literally signifies "toils," "snares," or 66 cords," as "holden in toils of affliction," Job xxxvi. 8, where the Septuagint renders ev oxoviois tevias, “in cords of penury." Hence it was used figuratively, to denote "pains" or "pangs," and rendered woveg by the Septuagint, in these passages. But the literal signification is more suited to the verb “loosed.”
applicable to David; and he concludes with the most positive assertion of both these facts.
"Let then all the house of Israel know assuredly, that GOD hath made both LORD and CHRIST, [at his resurrection and ascension,] this same JESUS whom ye crucified,” ver. 32-36.
Such a discourse, exhibiting the most profound and intimate knowledge of prophecy, and supported by such credentials, produced an instantaneous conversion of a considerable part of the audience. "They were filled with compunction and remorse, and enquired of Peter and the rest of the Apostles, What shall we do to be saved! And they readily and gladly accepted the proffered conditions of repentance and baptism, and as an assurance of their acceptance, they also received the promised gift of THE HOLY SPIRIT, proved most unequivocally by its regenerating effects; for after their admission into the Church, they persevered in the Apostles' doctrine, in the participation of the Lord's Supper, and in the public prayers; and what was still more extraordinary, and the surest proof of their disinterestedness and gratitude to GOD, "all the believers were united together, and held all things common," fulfilling our LORD'S precept, "freely ye have received, freely give," (Matt. x. 8,) ver.
This voluntary resignation of private property to the public stock, was probably necessary, at that early time, when all charity ceased toward Christians, but among themselves; and when they scrupled to partake of the temple sacrifices, which were a great relief to the poor. It certainly was not meant to be permanent, because, throughout the NEW TESTAMENT, as well as the OLD, there is always a distinction supposed to subsist be-twixt rich and poor; nor indeed could the affairs of the world possibly be carried on without such inequality of ranks and stations.
The great signs and wonders wrought by the Apostles, impressed fear on every soul, while the uncommon harmony and concord that reigned in the Christian community, their fervent piety in the public duties of religion, gained them favour with the people. "And THE LORD added to the Church such as were saved *, (owhoμevovc,) from that untoward generation," (ver. 40,) by embracing Christianity, (ver. 21.)
This is improperly rendered in a Calvinistic sense by our translators, “ such as should be saved,"—they misunderstood, "by the determined will and foreknowledge of God,"
THE CRIPPLE CURED.
The stupendous miracle, not long after, of healing a cripple from his birth, of more than forty years old, instantaneously, in the name of JESUS OF NAZARETH, and at the public station of the beautiful gate of the temple, at the hour of morning prayer, by Peter, made a prodigious impression upon the assembled multitude; for the man was well known, as an object of charity, Acts iii. 1-10.
Peter, therefore, availed himself of this favourable opportunity to address the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who all flocked to Solomon's porch, to see them and the person cured, in a second discourse, similar to the former, and if possible, more excellent and appropriate.
1. He disclaimed any merit to himself or his companion John, in working this consummate miracle by their own power or piety; for that it was effected on their part, " through the name," and on the cripple's part, "through faith in the name of JESUS," THE SON of the GOD of their fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, THE HOLY ONE and THE JUST, and THE PRINCE of LIFE, whom they denied before Pilate, and slew, preferring a murderer to be released unto them. But that GOD raised him from the dead, whereof they, (the Apostles,) were witnesses, ver. 12-16.
2. He apologized for their crime, by their ignorance of the real character of CHRIST, both theirs and their rulers: unwittingly fulfilling the prophecies of CHRIST'S sufferings, which GOD foretold by the mouth of all his Prophets, ver. 17, 18.
3. He admonished them to repent and be converted; and to wait for the promises of GOD made by all his holy Prophets, which should be fulfilled in the seasons of refreshment, and times of restitution of all things, at CHRIST's second coming in glory, to restore again the kingdom to Israel, and establish the kingdom of the saints upon earth; until which times and seasons, CHRIST was to remain in Heaven, ver. 19-21. Compare Acts i. 6, 7.
4. He impressed on them the necessity of immediate repent
whereas that relates to CHRIST's atonement, ver. 23, as Gilpin has judiciously remarked, σωζόμενοι, “ the reformed,” are contrasted with απολλυμενοι, "the abandoned," 1 Cor. i. 18, 2 Cor. ii. 15.