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spiritual world, such as there is nothing to be compared to in previous history, not even in that of the most glorious instruments whom God employed in olden time, with all their dazzling eloquence, and the miracles which stood at their command. This circumstance shows us that we have arrived at a new period in God's government. We behold here the actual presence in this world of the Holy Spirit, and a new form of his efficacy and miraculous agency, such as we do not find mentioned in sacred history as having taken place in any previous age of the world.
The means by which the first Christian church was called into existence was the word. But what sort of word ?-a word like that of Noah, when he threatened the children of men that a deluge of water should overwhelm them, and that the Spirit of God would no longer strive with them? Or a word like that of Moses, « Cursed be he that continueth not in all the words of this law, to do them!” Or like the prediction of Jonah, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" No, it was none of these; it was neither a curse-bringing, a thundering, nor a destroying word, although it was unutterably powerful and penetrating. It was a word which healed at the same momeut that it wounded ; and raised up and exalted the instant it cast down: it excited neither fear nor anguish, but, on the contrary, melted the heart and kindled love : it was the word of the cross—the message of salvation in Christ.
Ye remember the sermon of Peter, that Jesus who was crucified has been made by God both Lord and
Christ, and that whosoever will call on his name shali be saved, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit! This was the sum of his discourse, and this constituted its weight and impression, its power and sharpness. Dur. ing the Old Testament time, the sleepers were awakened by the thunders of the law; the gospel of the future Saviour was then only preached to the afflicted as a consolation, and not employed to awaken and arouse the dead, for as yet it was too dark, and veiled in too much obscurity. It was its accomplishment which first gave it the power of penetrating and softening the heart. Nevertheless, during the days of the old covehant, the time had been clearly predicted when friendly lips should preach glad tidings to the nations, when a glorious gospel should call dry hones into life, and when a people should be born unto the Lord, not under the terrors of Sinai, unto bondage, but amidst thë gentle breezes of Horeb, to the freedom of children and heirs with Christ. This time commenced with the day of Pentecost; and it is a strange battle-array in which the ministers of God henceforth enter the field against you. We come no more with excommunications ; no longer saying to the host of the Lord, “ Cursed bé ħë who does this or that!” Instead of approaching you with the pictures of a fearful judgment, and the raging flames of hell, we now advance to meet you with a cup filled with tears and drops of blood, with a crown of thorns,—with a heart of love pierced by the sword of sin,—and with a bloody cross. “See !" we cry, “this crown was worn by the Son of the living God, in order that you might receive a heavenly diadem!
these tears were shed by Eternal love, that you might be happy and rejoice for evermore !" It is thus we come, the heralds of the new covenant; but, at the same time, no one is safe before us ; our arms of might will break the stony heart of the most hardened wretch who fears neither God nor man; the most obdurate soul, whom no admonition and no threatening could move, when attacked by our weapons, falls, a sobbing and penitent child, into the arms of Jesus. Inspired with life by the breath of the gospel, those forms hitherto dead arose, who formed the first community at Jerusalem ; it was a new species of resurrection, but henceforward a customary one; the word of the cross was now to evangelize the world, and call the spirituallydead out of their graves. Wherever the word is preached in all its simplicity and clearness, that Christ is our representative, that “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us !"the justification of sinners by faith and not by works, and the accomplishment of the same through the sacrifice of Jesus once offered ;-when this is proclaimed, and when this is heard, there arise alterations and reforms in the characters of men ; for it is by means of these words that the Spirit operates, and it is through their preaching that he performs his miracles of spiritual creation.
Although there may be no terror, and the hair may hot stand on end at the sound of these words, yet there is an inexpressible melting and softening of the heart ;-although there may be no fear and anguish, as amidst the thunders of the law, yet there is a prostration in the dust at the feet of Jesus ;-although the limbs may not tremble, yet silent tears are dropping, which Jesus numbers ;—and although we do not cry out as on Mount Sinai," I exceedingly fear and quake!" we say what is far better, “ Lord Jesus, I am thine for ever! If I only possess thee, I ask nothing more either in earth or heaven !"
The establishment of the first christian church appears surprising also when we contemplate its unexampled rapidity. Peter had not preached many moments when the greatest change took place; the desert bloomed, and three thousand dead became alive: never before had such things happened. How long were the prophets of old obliged to labour; how long must they exhort and entreat, cry and thunder, before they succeeded in leading one lost sheep out of error, or in bending one knee in true devotion before the throne of Jehovah! And even when they had so far succeeded, it often happened that ere they had time to depart, their toils broke asunder and their prey escaped them. In Jerusalem, on the contrary, all this wonderful draught of fishes remained secure ; and what is still more extraordinary, the souls so lately won burst forth at once into a perfect life in the Lord, and henceforward stood with the apostles, as they themselves bear testimony, on an equal height of spi. ritual illumination and grace. It is impossible to deny that an entirely new operation of the Spirit here took place: he had never laboured in times past so joyfully and so powerfully; and never had he thus manifested himself to sinners, penetrating the heart and creating
anew. How can we explain this ? Had the house of God not been hitherto prepared for it? Or had the wings of the Spirit been first loosed and set free by the perfecting of the works of reconciliation ? Or had his love towards sinners only been fully kindled, on beholding them clad before God in the beauty of their perfect Representative? Or did he now perform to the world his office of manifesting the Son of Man, and his work of atonement, more powerfully, more comprehensively, and more clearly, as a testimony how completely the great Pledge had succeeded in opening for sinners the path to the wished-for goal? Let the cause be what it may, it is enough that with the feast of Pentecost commenced a new period in the history of the agency of the Holy Spirit; and that henceforward more speedy conversions and more perfect results took place.
What, then, was the foundation on which the first christian church at Jerusalem was built ? On that of the apostles' teaching. Even this was new! All obscurity was now taken away; the temple of God was no longer raised upon the dark and ambiguous sentences of the prophets, but on the crystalline foundation of simple and unveiled truth. Instead of that symbolical wisdom with which the ancients had been obliged to content themselves, the church now possessed the treasures of divine revelation, both by means of oral communication and by writing : the trumpet whose notes had hitherto instructed them, gave forth a clearer and more intelligible sound; and that which their forefathers had bcheld faintly sketched and afar