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Go-Teach all Nations.-Matt. xxviii. 19.
NEW-YORK, JANUARY, 1827.
By BAXTER DICKINSON, A. M.
THE DAY OF PENTECOST.
ACTS ii. 1.-And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place..
THE Pentecost was an annual religious festival of the Jews, designed to commemorate the promulgation of the law from Mount Sinai. It was instituted fifty days after Israel's deliverance from Egyptian bondage:
-a circumstance from which it seems to have derived its name. And it is worthy of notice, that the Pentecost alluded to in the text, was on the Sabbath-fifty days from the resurrection of Christ.
Perhaps few pages of the sacred history can afford the believer either more satisfaction or profit, than the one which exhibits the events of that memorable day.
After glancing at those events, we shall be prepared to contemplate some of the important instruction they afford.
The hundred and twenty disciples were assembled, for prayer and religious conference. And the twelve were doubtless expecting a speedy fulfilment of their Lord's promise, that they should be endued with power from on high. Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind; and there appeared unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, which rested upon each of them. Immediately they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak in languages with which they had previously been unacquainted. These facts being published through Jerusalem, drew around them crowds of astonished hearIn this multitude were men from at least sixteen different countries or provinces, and of as many different languages or dialects. The disci
ples addressed the whole, in their varied tongues, on the great subject of salvation.
Some seem to have been satisfied as to the reality of the miracle, and yet in doubt as to the design of it. And they said one to another; What meaneth this? Others, in a spirit of stubborn unbelief and of malice, ridiculed the whole, and pronounced the disciples intoxicated.
But the disciples were not to be silenced by ridicule. In God they felt strong. Peter standing up with the eleven, addressed the multitude with calmness, with plainness, and power. He showed, that the events they now witnessed were in perfect accordance with prophecy; were in fact an exact fulfilment of a prediction of the prophet Joel. He then proceeded to charge upon them the crime of murdering the Son of God; and to bear public testimony to His resurrection, and His exaltation to the right hand of God's throne. Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain. This Jesus hath God raised up; whereof we all are witnesses. 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. Therefore, let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
This plain and bold address, carried to the conscience and heart by an omnipotent Spirit, was overwhelming. The voice of derision was hushed. And on every side broke forth the momentous inquiry, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Taught by the Holy Ghost, the apostle urged at once the duty of repentance; and encouraged even the chief of sinners to hope for forgiveness, by a reference to the gracious promises of God. The result was that on that day, three thousand were added to the disciples of the Lord Jesus.
Such was the day of Pentecost; such the triumphant entrance of apostles on the great work of evangelizing the world. We are now,
TO CONTEMPLATE SOME OF THE IMPORTANT INSTRUCTION, WHICH
THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THAT OCCASION AFFORD.
1. In the occurrences of the day of Pentecost, we discover evidence of A SPECIAL DIVINE INFLUENCE.
The idea is too prevalent, that the agency of the Supreme is only of a general character. It is denied, that he imparts any important influence at one time more than at another. It is supposed, in a word, that the re
pentance and salvation of sinners are brought about, independently of any direct agency on the part of God.
Such views are manifestly at variance with the general testimony of the Bible, and very pointedly discountenanced by the page before us. Through the whole chain of events here detailed, we perceive clear evidence of God's special agency. Such evidence is furnished by the fact, that the apostle were instantaneously endued with extraordinary gifts of speech. They spake with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them
Most convincing evidence of a special divine influence is found, also, in the effects produced upon the day of Pentecost. Prejudices the most violent were overcome. Hostility to the Christian faith the most rancorous was allayed An important revolution was effected in the character and conduct of three thousand. And the only visible means of producing those astonishing effects, was the plain preaching of the apostles. Independently of divine aid, they spake, too, under very peculiar disadvantages. They had none of the accomplishments of learning, and none of the influence of wealth and rank. They were regarded as a company of unenlightened and deluded adherents to a system of religious heresy. By many they were pitied. By more they were despised. The violence of malignant feeling, which led to the crucifixion of their Lord, had not yet subsided; and they also were in danger of a similar martyrdom. At the same time they inculcated a religion directly at variance with the natural disposition and established prejudices of their hearers.
Contemplating, therefore, the effects produced under such circumstances, we can rationally account for them, only by admitting that the special agency of God was concerned. And those effects, corroborated as they have since been by the experience of millions turned from darkness to light, furnish invincible proof, that there is a secret divine influence sometimes over the soul of man, which gives to the Gospel of truth a convincing and transforming power. An influence it is, with which stands connected the salvation of the rebellious. And it is imparted or withheld according to the sovereign pleasure of Him who governs in the heavens.
2. The occurrences of the day of Pentecost confirmed TIE DIVINE MISSION OF JESUS, and THE TRUTH OF CHRISTIANITY.
Whilst on earth, the Lord Jesus gave abundant evidence that he was from God. His numerous and well-attested miracles were so many unanswerable proofs; that he actually possessed the high character which
he claimed. The resurrection of Jesus gave new and still stronger testimony to the divinity of his mission, and the truth of his doctrine.
The unbelieving Jews seemed to regard the event of Christ's death, as sufficient evidence that he was an impostor. If thou BE the Son of God, said they, with mingled feelings of incredulity and contempt, come down from the cross. He saved others, himself he can not save. He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him. And though the fact of his resurrection, according to his own prediction, was established by the clearest testimony, still the leading Jews must pretend, that deception had been practised. They persuaded the multitude, that the disciples came by night and stole him away. It remained for the events of another day, to give testimony to his divine mission, the force of which enmity itself could not resist. Those events were the occurrences of the day of Pentecost. They were an exact and obvious fulfilment of a prediction, or promise, of the Saviour. He encouraged his disciples to expect, that they would be endued with special power from on high. They were thus endued. Of the fact there was such proof as to convince assembled thousands; and among them the very murderers of their Lord.
If Jesus were an impostor, whence so wonderful a coincidence betwixt his promise and events which took place after his ascension to heaven. We have seen, too, that the peculiar powers possessed by the disciples, and the effects they produced, can be rationally ascribed to nothing short of the special agency of God. And will Jehovah lend his special aid for the support of an impostor, and the propagation of falsehood?
Tell us not, then, that this Jesus, whom we preach, and follow, and trust for immortal life, was a blasphemous pretender, when he thought it not robbery to be equal with God. The record of his miracles, the event of his resurrection, and the signal fulfilment of his last promises of love, all demonstrate that he actually possessed that Divine dignity which he claimed. Tell us not, that the Christian system is a base fabrication. The very marked interference of God for its defence on the day of Pentecost assures us, that it is from Himself, and is true. And with such evidence of its divine origin, we will listen to its instructions; we will place entire confidence in its promises; we will cherish its thrilling hopes, as our blessed portion for Eternity.
3. The occurrences of the day of Pentecost exhibit THE FOLLY OF OPPOSITION TO THE KINGDOM OF CHRIST.
We say nothing now concerning the guilt of those, who array their talents, learning, influence, and possessions against the cause of God's
Anointed. We say nothing of the woes, which will accumulate along the path of their future existence. We see stamped on such opposition a character of folly, as well as of crime and peril.
Had the success of the Christian cause, in its commencement, been dependent on the few and feeble disciples of our Lord, its foes might justly have hoped at once to crush it. And were its future success, amid a world in rebellion, dependent exclusively on the resources of either men or angels, we might well despair of its universal triumph, and even indulge the most trembling anticipation. But the cause is supported, and moved on, by an arm of everlasting strength.
The day of Pentecost assures us, that Jehovah regards the kingdom of his Son with supreme affection; and that all his perfections are engaged for its defence and enlargement. If otherwise, why at the period of its peculiar trial, did he not abandon it? Why did he grant to its supporters the gift of tongues? Why impart to their ministra. tions such a resistless energy? The language of this favour to the infant church is too plain to be misunderstood. It gave to her a pledge of unchanging friendship: so that she has nothing to fear from the malice or the power of millions leagued against her. Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
But if such friendship and power be pledged for Christ's kingdom, we must say, that man never assumes an attitude of greater folly, than when he sets himself to oppose its progress. Let him hush the raging tempest: Let him calm the rocking deep: Let him arrest the sun in his march of grandeur through the heavens: Let him subvert the throne of the Eternal; then will we cease to pity the deluded man, who hopes to injure the kingdom of Immanuel. His warfare is with Omnipotence; and he had better desist from the controversy at once; and like Paul stand forth a champion of the faith he would destroy. He might thus avoid hours, ages, an eternity, of mortification, as well as anguish. For Christianity, in its purity, must visit every land, province, and village; not merely to learn the condition of mankind; but to establish her empire. She shall achieve one victory after another, over ignorance, prejudice, and corruption; and in one land and province after another, fix her standard, till a voice from heaven shall proclaim, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ.
And never has the Christian cause pressed on more swiftly to such a consummation, than at this very moment. Jehovah is most manifestly