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The report of what had happened was, it seems, soon spread abroad, which naturally brought together a great concourse of people.
By the Jews from every other nation under heaven, we are to understand, persons from every part of the known world, where any who were Jews by natural descent, or had become proselytes to the Jewish religion, dwelt. These Jews were called devout men, meaning persons of a religious disposition, who feared GOD, and obeyed his ordinances. They are said to have dwelt at Jerusalem. It is likely they had fixed their abode in the Holy City, with a view to the speedy accomplishment of Daniel's prophecy, concerning the kingdom of heaven.
Those who mocked were doubtless of the number of unbelieving Jews. It was very absurd to suppose, that new wine in the head would enable men to speak languages they had never been taught.
The wonderful things of which the Apostles spake, we may suppose to have been redemption by CHRIST, and the grace of the Gospel.
The gift of tongues intimated, that the Scriptures should be translated, and the public worship performed in every language.
The Apostles bore with patience the slander that was cast on them, for the Jews had called their LORD a winebibber: no wonder, therefore, they should cast similar reflections on his followers. Peter, however, with great calmness and temper, stood up to clear himself and his brethren from their unjust censures; and observed it to be very unlikely that Jews, as they all were, should be drunken by nine o'clock in the morning; as no man of the Jewish religion who had any regard for his reputation,
See Section xxvii. Vol. V.
would even taste wine on such a solemn festival as Pentecost, till he had attended the public service of the temple.
Peter then taught them to consider the event which caused such astonishment, as the accomplishment of Joel's prophecy, "that God would pour out his SPIRIT upon all flesh." And what but the SPIRIT of ALMIGHTY GOD Himself could produce such astonishing effects? Peter intimated to them, that this effusion of the HOLY SPIRIT would be followed by an awful revolution; and admonished them to pay particular attention to the prophet's declaration, that whoever would be saved from destruction, and placed in a state of security, must invoke the name of the LORD; that is to say, profess his faith in the MESSIAH. Peter next gave a short abstract of the life of CHRIST, who, though he appeared amongst them as a man of Nazareth, was peculiarly approved of God, as they themselves must be convinced by his miraculous works, which were recent in the memory of many who were then present.
To account for the success of the wicked conspiracy which the Jews had formed against the life of JESUS, Peter observed, that it was ordained of God, to whom all events were foreknown, that CHRIST should submit to death; but it was not in the power of his enemies to confine him in the grave, nor indeed possible that he should continue long in a state of death; because God had faithfully promised in a prophecy contained in the book of Psalms *, that he would not leave the soul of his HOLY ONE in the place of the dead, nor suffer his body to see corruption; and nothing can hap pen contrary to the determinations of GOD, which are un
*See Psalm xvi.
changeable. The Apostle then quoted the passage of the Psalm to which he alluded, and observed, that it evidently related to the MESSIAH, as it could not be fully applied to David, but was exactly fulfilled in CHRIST; therefore CHRIST was to be regarded henceforth as the LORD of whom David spake; and it was expressly required of the house of Israel, to receive him both as the visible representative of GOD, and the MESSIAH who they had by their prophets been taught to expect would come to bring them salvation.
To enforce the belief of what had been now declared, Peter asserted, that he and his brethren had seen JESUS ascend to heaven, and were appointed by him to bear witness of it. To account for the miraculous gift of tongues, Peter informed his hearers, that the MESSIAH having received from GOD THE FATHER a promise, that he should have power to dispense the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT, had now shewed it forth in this wonderful way, to prove that the Divine promise was fulfilled.
Our SAVIOUR repeatedly assured his Apostles that they should on all occasions relating to their ministry be instructed by the HOLY SPIRIT what to say. This promise was remarkably fulfilled at this time; for the most learned and eloquent man in the world could not have chosen better arguments, or conducted his discourse with more propriety than Peter did, who was originally an ignorant illiterate fisherman. The efficacy of this oration on those who heard it, proved its excellency; for it seems to have convinced the reason of every one present, that the miracle they beheld was a proof of CHRIST's exaltation-to have excited the utmost awe and reverence of him-and to have awakened
* See Sect. Ivi.
their consciences, so that they were sensible of their own sins, and the necessity of redemption, which led them to enquire by what means they might obtain remission of their sins. As soon as they knew the terms of salvation, they gladly complied with them. The terms, we find, were baptism and repentance.
There is reason to conclude, that many families were converted to Christianity at this time; for the word souls is generally used in the Scriptures when women, children, and servants, are included; so that we may understand not merely three thousand men, but so many persons.
The example of the first Christians is a pattern for all succeeding ones. They exactly followed their LORD's commands to live like brethren, to break bread, or celebrate the Sacrament of the LORD's Supper in remembrance of him, and to be earnest and frequent in prayer and thanksgiving, both in public and private.
They assembled together for pious conversation in companies, according as their language or other circumstances required, excluding from their intimate society all who disbelieved the Gospel; were cheerful among themselves, and liberal to all who wanted relie£ The blameless simplicity of their lives and conversation, and the cheerfulness with which they discharged the duties of religion, recommended it in the most forcible manner; so that the LORD, through divine grace, added daily to the church numbers of those who should be saved; that is to say, those who had humble teachable minds. The LORD so ordered events by the dispositions of Providence, that all those who resided at Jerusalem, had opportunities afforded them of hearing the Gospel preached with such evident marks of Divine inspiration, as none who made a proper use of their reason could resist.
Much useful instruction may be collected from this Section. It assures us of the faithfulness of God's promises, made known by the prophets and our blessed SAVIOUR, respecting the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT; and instructs us to study the prophecies of the Old Testament, and receive the completion of them as full evidence of the truth of the Gospel-to believe in our blessed Redeemer, and consider the power and dignity to which he is exalted, and honour him accordinglyto reflect what we have to do, as well as to believe, in order to be saved from everlasting destruction.
Baptism is usually administered in our infant years, and having been once baptized, there is no need for us to repeat it; but repentance is an every-day duty: for the best of men commit sins daily. How comfortable is it to know, that our sins will be remitted, and the gift of the HOLY SPIRIT bestowed on us, if we do not obstinately resist its Divine influence-for the promise was made not for the Apostles and the immediate disciples of CHRIST only, nor yet for the generation of men who were alive when they preached, but for them and their descendants to the end of the world; and for all even of the most distant nations, who would obey the gracious call of GOD through the LORD JEsus CHRIST. But we must be careful to observe, that none have encouragement to hope for an irresistible call; our own will must co-operate with Divine grace *; for the Apostle admonished his hearers to save themselves. The principal means of doing so he had before pointed out; but he further intimated, that it was requisite to avoid the company of wicked people.
*See Sect. xliv. Vel. V. p.181, for the definition of Divine grace.