Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Julian Period, 4742. Vulgar Era,

DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT-CHAP. IX.

17

3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like Jerusalem. as of fire, and it sat upon each of them:

the present day the gifts of tongues would be disregarded, and
considered as useless when languages may be so easily acquired.
Those infidels who now scoru the evidence of prophecy which
has declared the glorious triumph of Christianity over all the
persecuting opposition of its powerful opponents, and who see
it progressively extending over the unconverted world, would
in all probability doubt even if a miracle were wrought in their
favour. What indeed can be a greater evidence of the truth of
Revelation than the living miracle of the perpetual preserva-
tion of the Jews, as a distinct body, separated from their fellow
men, holding in their hands the Hebrew Scriptures, and bearing
testimony of their divine origin, and of their own perverse
blindness and condemnation.
"though one rose from the dead, yet will they not be per-
Of such men I would say,
suaded."

The extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit being vouchsafed
for one especial purpose only, the benefit of the Christian
Church; as soon as that Church was established, and the canon
of Scripture completed, were gradually withdrawn. While
the ordinary operations, without which no child of Adam can
"be renewed unto holiness," are to be continued for ever,
“even unto the end of the world." This was the consoling
and gracious promise our Lord gave to his disciples, before he
was visibly parted from them. He informs them of his depar-
ture; and at the same time declares, "I will not leave you
comfortless, I will come to you:" and again in another Evange-
list, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the
world." This most merciful promise was at first given to the
apostles, and through their ministry to the Universal Church;
Christ himself having appointed outward means of grace, by
which he has engaged to maintain a constant communion with
his Church, through the operations of the Holy Ghost. The
spirit of Christ through the Holy Ghost still acts in the admi-
nistration of holy orders, in the study of the revealed word, in
public and private worship, and in the sacraments, (1 Cor. vi.
11. John vi. 55. 63. Thess. ii. 13. Ephes. v. 25, 26. &c. &c. &c.)
These are the means of grace by which the ordinary operations
of the Holy Ghost are imparted; and these are the sources from
which alone we have reason to expect those continued and spi-
ritual gifts which are essentially necessary to the renovation of
fallen man, and his reconciliation with God. Every amiable
feeling and affection, every virtue, and every grace, are the
fruits of the Holy Spirit. He alone, by a secret and internal
operation, changes and transforms the "spirit of our mind,"
and enlarges and improves every faculty of our soul, healing all
its sicknesses. He checks the solicitations of sense, counteracts
our natural propensities, arms us against the flatteries and
allurements of the world, and against those spiritual enemies
which are ever on the watch to assail our weaknesses, and to
tempt our virtue. "He," to use the words of the eloquent
Barrow, "sweetly warmeth our cold affections, inflaming our
hearts with devotion towards God; he qualifieth us, and en-
courageth us to approach the throne of grace, breeding in us
faith and humble confidence, prompting in us fit matter of re-
quest, becoming our Advocate and Intercessor for the good
success of our prayers." He is our only Comforter and Inter-
cessor on earth-through Him alone we can attain to "that
most excellent gift of charity which never faileth, which believ.

VOL. II.

C

Julian Period, 4742. Vulgar Æra,

29.

4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and Jerusalem.

eth all things, and hopeth all things," surviving the wreck of
time, the perfection of man here, and his happiness hereafter (a).

A variety of opinions have been advanced respecting this
miracle of Pentecost. The most rational and the most general
is, that the gift of tongues lasted during the ministry of the
apostles; and as soon as the purpose for which it was given
was accomplished, that it was gradually withdrawn.

Others contend that it was but temporary, and intended to answer only an immediate purpose; that the miracle was not wrought upon the apostles themselves, but upon the people only, who were suddenly enabled to understand in their own various dialects, the words which were spoken by the apostles in the Galilean language.

Others attempt to do away the miracle altogether. Eichhorn suggests, that to speak with tongues, means only, that some of the apostles uttered indistinct and inarticulate sounds; and those who uttered foreign, or new, or other words, were Jews who had come to Jerusalem, from the remote provinces of the empire, and being excited by the general fervour of the people, united with them in praising God in their own languages. Herder is of opinion that the word yλwooa is used to express only obsolete, foreign, or unusual words. Paulus conjectures, that those who spoke with different tongues were foreign Jews, the hearers Galileans. Meyer, that they either spoke in terms or language not before used; in an enthusiastic manner, or united Hebrew modes of expression, with Greek or Latin words. Heinrichsius, or Heinrich, that the apostles suddenly spoke the pure Hebrew language, in a sublime and elevated style. Kleinius, that the apostles, excited by an extraordinary enthusiasm, expressed their feelings with more than usual warmth and eloquence. Such are the ways in which the modern German theologians endeavour to remove the primitive and ancient belief in the literal interpretation of Scripture. "Thinking themselves wise, they become fools." Learning so perverted by the inventions of paradoxes, which can tend only to darken the light of Scripture under the pretence of illustrating its sacred contents, becomes more injurious to the consecrated cause of truth than the most despicable ignorance, or the most wilful blindness. The errors of ignorance, the fancies of a disordered imagination, the misinterpretations of well intending theories, are comparatively harmless, when contrasted with the baleful light which renders the Scripture useless, by producing doubt in the attempt to overthrow facts.

Byrom of Manchester, also, and others, have endeavoured to lessen the force of this miracle, by representing that the influence of the Spirit was not so imparted to the apostles as to enable them to speak in various languages, but that when the apostles addressed the multitude in their native Galilean dialect, the Parthians, Medians, &c. who were present, understood them each severally in their own language. It is well remarked by Thilo, that if this had been the case, the words of St. Luke would have been λαλῆσιν ἀυτοὶ, ἀκεόντων ἡμῶν ταῖς ἡμετέραις γλῶσσαις, whereas his expression is λαλέντων αὐτῶν ταῖς ἡμετέ pais yawooais, unde etiam patet, miraculum hoc non fuisse in audientibus, sed in apostolis loquentibus. He then goes on to prove that they spoke successively the various languages of the hearers and spectators of the miracle—they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance, kalç TO πνεῦμα ἐδίδε αὐτοῖς (ἀποτόλοις) ἀποφθέγγεσθαι, non έδιδε αὐτοῖς

[blocks in formation]

DESCENT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT-CHAP. IX.

19

began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave Jerusalem. them utterance.

(cxpoarais) eivarsσai. B. Schmidius-Syrus, loquebantur lin-
gua, et lingua, ie pluribus linguis (6).

(a) See Nolan's Sermons on the Operations of the Holy Ghost; also
Faber on the ordinary Operations of the Holy Spirit, being evidences to
the authenticity of their own prophecies. (b) Salmasius was of opi
nion that the miraculous gifts lasted but for one day.-See the disserta-
tions on this event in the Critici Sacri-Kuinoel Comm. in lib. Hist.
N. T. vol. iv.-Nolan on the Holy Ghost, and Faber on the ordinary
Operations, &c. &c. &c.

6 The words here used by St. Luke, καὶ ἐν τῷ συμπληρῆσθαι
τὴν ἡμέραν τῆς πεντεκοτῆς· are thus happily translated by B.
Dn. Erasmus Schmidt (in not. ad loc.) et cum completum esset,
tempus usque ad diem festum Pentecostes-" And when the
time was fulfilled, even up to the day of Pentecost." The Jews
reckoned the day of Pentecost to begin fifty days after the first
of unleavened bread, which was observed the day after the
Paschal Lamb was offered. The law relative to this feast is
found in Levit. xxiii. 15, 16. Perhaps the Evangelist is thus
particular in pointing out the time, on account of the striking
analogy that exists between the old and new dispensations in
this and other great events.

In the former the Paschal Lamb of the Passover was broken,
and fed upon, in remembrance of the great deliverance of the
children of God from the hands of their temporal enemies, by
whom they were detained in bondage and subjection. In the
latter at the celebration of this figurative feast, Christ our pass-
over was slain to deliver all that would believe on Him from
the great enemies of their salvation, Satan, sin, and death, and
to rescue their spirits from the unhappy thraldom of these cruel
task-masters. He died for us that we might be spiritually fed
by his body and blood. In the former dispensation, at the day
of Pentecost, God gave his law on Mount Sinai, with thunder
and lightning, fire, storm and tempest, with all the awful de-
monstrations of an offended Deity. In the fulness of time, at
the feast of Pentecost God again manifested himself, and reveal-
ed a more perfect law-on both occasions circumstances charac-
teristic of the peculiar nature of the law were observed-the
same divine power was demonstrated, but in the latter instance
robbed of its terrors. On both occasions the presence of God was
manifested by the sound of rushing winds supernaturally excited,
by fire descending from heaven, and as some suppose by the sud-
den thunder which accompanied the Bath Col. The account of
St. Luke is so very brief, that we cannot be certain whether the
latter proof of the presence of God was given; but it is the most
probable opinion, and is very strenuously defended by Haren-
burgh, in the 13th volume of the Critici Sacri (a). At the
passover, Christ proved his human nature by submitting to the
most ignominious death to which that nature could be exposed:
at the day of Pentecost he gave evidence of his divine nature
and exaltation, by miracle, and by power, and by fulfilling to
the utmost the promise he made to his disciples while with them
upon earth. (John xiv. 16. 18.) "He humbled himself, that he
might be exalted."

In the Jewish tabernacle God testified his acceptance of the
first sacrifice that was offered on the holy altar by the descent
of fire from heaven. When Christ made a sacrifice of his body
on the altar of the cross, thereby abolishing all burnt offerings
of bulls and of goats: the apostles, as priests and ministers of his
c 2

Julian Period, 4742.

Vulgar Æra, 29.

5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout Jerusalem. 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 marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans?

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,

new covenant, as the living sacrifices acceptable to God, re-
ceived a similar token of divine approbation, by fire from heaven
resting upon them in the form of fiery tongues. Thus are all
the mysteries of Omnipotence shadowed out as through a
glass darkly," and thus may we not suppose that the last reve-
lation given to man by St. John, typifies in like manner those
eternal realities of the new Jerusalem, of which we can form no
higher idea than the Jews of old entertained of the glorious
privileges and blessings, of which we are now the happy par-
takers in the Christian dispensation.

(a) The opinion is principally founded on the words in Acts ii. 6.
Γενομένης δὲ τῆς φωνῆς ταύτης, which both Harenberg and Schoet-
gen would render in this manner-wvñs, verte tonitru. Sic sœpe vox
5p, in Hebræo, et vox græca apoc. 1. 15. x. 3. Schoetgen refers also
to Heinsius, in Aristarcho Sacro, c. 14, and 25. Doddridge defends the
common translation by observing, that it was not the sound of thunder
or rushing wind which collected the people together, but the miracu-
lous effusion of tongues. This, however, must still remain a matter of
doubt, as we are only informed in the sacred narrative, that when the
multitude came together, they were confounded to hear every man speak
in his own language.

9 Various opinions have prevailed respecting the place where this miracle occurred. The temple, the house of Mary the mother of John, of Simon the leper, of Joseph of Arimathea, of Nicodemus, have each been alternately fixed upon. This point must ever remain in a great degree a matter of doubt; I am however induced, by the arguments of the celebrated Joseph Mede, to think that this miracle took place in an upper room of some private house, set apart for religious services, rather than in the temple which was so soon to be destroyed, and its figurative service superseded by a spiritual worship and purer discipline.

It is not probable that the despised followers of the crucified Jesus should be allowed, as an associated body, to assemble together in the temple, for the purpose of joining in a new act of devotion, by those priests who had so short a time since, been the persecuting instruments of their blessed Master's condemnation and crucifixion (a).

(a) See Schoetgen and Mede's Dissertation on the Churches of the Apostolic Age.

Julian Period, 4742.

Valgar Era, 19.

PETER'S ADDRESS TO THE MULTITUDE-CHAP. IX.

21

11. Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our Jerusalem. tongues the wonderful works of God.

12 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 10.

SECTION IV.

Address of Peter to the Multitude.

ACTS ii. 14-36.

14 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:

10 Markland supposes that instead of " these men are full of new wine," the passage should be read, "these men are, without doubt, under the strong inspiration of the Goddess Tλɛvкó. He would read yλɛvкouç as derived from yλεukoç, "must." For the sake of ridicule, the person or goddess revк (Gen. óos, es,) formed as ¤áλλw, Avžш (Poll. viii. 9. Segm. 10.) is used. So likewise 'Aɛtésw, and Evɛsw, Deæ Politicæ. Those who opposed the apostles intended by this expression to sneer at the mean appearance and obvious poverty of the fishermen of Galilee, as no one opened their vessels of last year's yλɛvkog, so early as June, unless impelled by necessity (a).

This, however, seems to be a strange remark of Markland: the witnesses of the miracle at Pentecost were Jews; and though some of them who were Hellenists, had resided in Greece or Rome, it does not appear probable that they would make an allusion to the mythology of the heathens in preference to their own traditions. In which they read that there was a demon called opp, which possessed those who were drunk with new wine, which gave the drinker not only wit and gaiety, but the power of speaking other languages (b); and to this agent we may justly suppose the Jews would have ascribed the eloquence and fluency of the apostles if they had attempted to account for the effects of the Holy Spirit by any supernatural influence. But as we find that this was not the case, and as the only evidence that a reference was made to the Heathen Mythology can be derived from the word yλεukos, the present translation of the passage may be considered, Í think, as giving its genuine signification (c).

(a) Ap. Bowyer in loc. (b) See Lightfoot, Pitman's edition, vol. viii. p. 377. (c) Hesychius ap. Schoetgen, Teũkog, rò áπosáyμa τῆς Ξαφυλῆς, πρὶν κατηθῆ, illud, quod ab uva distillat, antequam calcetur. See Schoetgen, Horæ Hebraicæ, vol. i. p. 412. and the Dissertation on the word гλɛukog, in the Critici Sacri.

"St. Peter here particularly addresses himself to these repo (ver. 13.) who reproached the apostles as drunkards, to the Jews of Judea and Jerusalem, because those who were assembled from distant parts might not have been so well acquainted with the prophecy of Joel, (ii. 28.) which he now declares to have been fully accomplished on this occasion. And he urges upon those who hear him this predicted promise of the Holy Spirit, as a glorious evidence of the exaltation and resurrection of the crucified Jesus, who was "both Lord and Christ." Let those who doubt the inspiration of Peter, compare what he now

« ZurückWeiter »