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God, wolili ful people; it"; Grant in all things
God, who, as at this time, didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by the sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit ; Grant us by the same Spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort, through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour ; who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.
“OT HE conclusion of this great festival-sea
son,” which in the primitive church reached from Easter to Whitsunday, “was Pentecost, taken in the stricter sense for that particular day, commonly called Whitsunday, or Pencost, when they” (the primitive Christians) « commemorated the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles; which happened upon the day which the Jews called Pentecost, or the fiftieth day after the Passover, (a day of great note among the Jews both for the memorial of the law delivered at mount Sinai, and also for the gathering and bringing in of their harvest.) It retained the same name of Pentecost among the Christians; though they kept it not as a Jewish feast, but only as a commemoration of the glorious effusion of the Spirit in the gift of tongues and other miraculous powers, made at this time upon the disciples. Hence it had also the name of queca Ilyevnatos, the day of the Holy Ghost, as we find in Nazianzen and others. “And some learned men think,* it was hence called Whitsunday, partly because of those vast diffusions of light and knowledge, which on this day were shed upon the Apostles in order to the enlightening of the world ; but principally because, this being one of the stated times of baptism in the ancient church, they who were baptized put on white garments, in token of that pure and innocent course of life they had now engaged in. 'The original of this feast is by some carried as high as the Apostles. Epiphanius was of opinion that St. Paul 'meant it in those words, when he said, 5 he hastened to be at Jerusalem on the day of « Pentecost.” (Acts xx. 16.) But because interpréters generally take it in another sense, we will lay no stress upon it. However it is certain this feast was observed in the time of Origen, for he speaks of it in his books against Celsus; ás does also Tertullian before him, and Irenæus before them both, in his book concerning Easter, as the author of the questions under the name of Justin Martyr informs us.” “ St. Austin says, The law was written by the finger of God, and given to Moses on this day : and that was a type of the Holy Ghost, called the finger of God in the gospel, which Christ promised to His disciples as a Comforter, and sent to them on the fiftieth day after His passion and resurrection. And all such eminent facts as were done upon certain days were annually celebrated in the church, that the anniversary feast might preserve the useful and necessary memorial of them."op.a. i . ?" h. The collect for this day consists of a prefáce and a prayer. In the preface we celebrate that * Cave's Primitive Christianity, part I. chap. vii, p. 192.
instance of Divine mercy which God vouchsafed to His church on the day of Pentecost;-and in the prayer we implore the same mercy for ourselves.
It is scarcely needful to remark that the faithful people, mentioned in our collect as taught of God, were the Apostles and first Evangelists, who were to be employed as God's ambassadors to a lost world in consequence of the commission which they had received to “preach the Gospel “ to every creature," and to “ disciple all na« tions, baptising them in the name of the “ Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy “ Ghost.”
Of this astonishing instance of Divine merey a particular account is given us in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, which properly opens with a relation of the manner in which the Apostles were qualified for the execution of their high office, and then proceeds to a detail of the success with which it was attended. On that interesting event, the Pentecostal effusion of the Spirit, we shall enlarge a little, as being referred to in the introduction of our collect. : We are informed by the sacred historian, (Acts ii. 1-4) that “ When the day of Pente“ gost was fully come, the Apostles 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 began to speak “ with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them " utterance."
Hiss made Himself a spiritual subs
God had from the beginning of the world revealed Himself to man through the medium of sensible objects. And indeed it doth not appear how God, as a spiritual substance, could have made Himself known to us without them. His nature, threefold personality, mode of subsistence, moral perfections, and will, were exhibited, previously to the coming of Christ, by a long train of rites and cereinonies, extending from Adam to the termination of the Jewish economy. These all ceased to be in force when He came of whom they were shadowy representations. Yet under the new dispensation, though confessedly more, spiritual than the former, God hath chosen to make use of the same method of instruction, explaining spiritual things by natural. “Of this method our Lord's parables, St. Peter's vision, the Christian sacraments, the whole book of the Revelation, and the event which we this day commemorate, are instances. And inasmuch as words are the signs of ideas, and all our ideas are derived through the medium of our senses, instruction by words, and instruction by signs, are nearly, allied to each other.
The marvellous event which our collect celebrates is a most important link in that grand and golden chain of salvation which reaches from eternity to eternity, originating in the eternity that is past, and to be perfected in the eternity, which is to come. It is one of those glorious circumstances which were all comprehended and secured in the antemundane covenant of redemption. For as Christ was to receive the reward of His sufferings in the conversion, sanctification, and salvation of a great multitude of human souls, innumerable as the
dew-drops of the morning; it was necessary that His gospel should be published, that heralds should be qualified for the office of proclaiming it, and that their message should be accompanied by a Divine agency for the purpose of rendering it effectual..
Forasmuch as this event constituted an important article in the covenant of redemption, we need not wonder to find that it was a frequent subject of prediction before its accomplishment. It was comprehended in the first promise made to our guilty parents in Paradise, and progressively explained, with increasing distinctness, by a long train of inspired prophets, among whom Joel is the most remarkable with respect to this event. (See Acts ii. 16-21.) At length the great prophet Himself appeared, and spake plainly of the Comforter and His work.
It may be necessary to remark, that previous to the manifestation of God in the flesh there were many partial effusions of the Spirit on the church at different periods, and that all real Godliness from the beginning, both in the church and in the individuals of which it was composed, was the result of Divine influence. There were from the beginning a faithful few who " worshipped God in the Spirit," being united to Christ by faith, and deriving from Him that vital energy whereby they were enabled to live to Him. But the grand discovery of His grace to all nations was reserved till the Son of man was glorified. . . From the time of our Lord's ascension to the day of Pentecost, during the space of ten days, the Apostles and the other disciples, being one hundred and twenty in number, waited in the performance of religious exercises at Jerusalem
churliness from the indivit of Divi