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us, as he formerly did upon the Apostles, and the other disciples, when he enlightens us with his light, leads us into all truth, redeems us from all unrighteousness, writes the law of love in our hearts, and makes of us a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy people. For these promises are not merely made to a few: but to all and every true christian believer. “The promise, says Peter, in his pentecostal sermon, is unto you, and to your children, and to all them that are afar off, whom the Lord our God shall call.” Acts ii. 39. It has reference, not only to one and another, but the Apostle says ex. pressly, that the promise was made to them and to their children, and to all those that should believe on him, through the power of this word.
This may serve, in the first place, as a no small consolation, in so far as we possess, in our hearts, the smallest spark of divine love, and especially to troubled souls, since we hear, that our piety and godliness is not always to continue so wretched and imperfect: but that power from on high will be im. parted to us, for this purpose, which shall accomplish that in us, which human powers are incapable of effecting; and secondly, that we ought most powerfully to incite ourselves by this, worthily to prepare ourselves for the celebration of the day of pentecost and the reception of the Holy Spirit, in order that he may pour himself out upon us, in as full a measure, as he formerly did upon the first believers, and that it
may be said of us as it was formerly of them, “They were all filled with the Holy Ghost." Let
us therefore, with the divine assistance, and following the narrative of the day of pentecost we have just read, mutually consider and reflect upon the highly necessary preparatives for celebrating the day of pentecost, and receiving the Holy Ghost.
I. We must give place to the first motions of the Holy Spirit, inciting us to repentance, and seek to follow them cordially.
II. We must not stop short at these first motions, but continually advance further.
III. We must cultivate a continual and intimate intercourse with other children of God, and live closely united with them.
IV. Our hearts must be outwardly and inwardly collected for prayer.
V. We must faithfully endure, and unweariedly wait for the real impartation of the Holy Spirit.
1. In order that we may worthily prepare our: selves for the reception of the Holy Pentecostal Spirit: we must give place to the first motions of the Holy Spirit inciting us to repentance and the amendment of our lives, and make it our cordial endeavour, with the divine assistance, to obey, immediately and without any delay, the salutary suggestions of the Spirit, when he announces himself to us, and carry them into effect in the best manner possible. Of this we have an instance in those who first believed on the Lord. For “when the day of pentecost was fully come: they were all with one accord, in one place.” And in the 14th verse of
the former chapter, it stands still more expressly : “They all continued together, with one accord, in prayer and supplication." They were therefore immediately obedient to the voice of their dear Saviour; they met together unanimously, and sought, by prayer and supplication, to prepare themselves for the reception of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, when it pleases God to call us to himself, by the operation of his Spirit: we must immediately obey, and not confer long upon it with flesh and blood, but be ready, not only to listen to the divine will, but also to fulfil it.
The first operation of the Holy Spirit is to produce fear and reproof. This Christ himself teaches us, when he thus speaks, in the 16th chapter of John, “ But when the Spirit, the Comforter, is come, he will reprove the world" (verse 8.) This is his first work in the hearts of those, who are to be prepared for the reception of the holy pentecostal Spirit. Hence, my dearest friends! it is of no avail, to wish to receive the Holy Spirit with an unchanged heart. The gift of the Holy Spirit to repent must precede, before a man can be capable of receiving the precious Holy Spirit. In the first chapter of the Book of Wisdom, it is expressly said, that the Holy Spirit, who teaches right things, departs from the ungodly: that wisdom is so just, that it cannot let the blasphemer go unpunished. Therefore, we hope in vain to have the Holy Spirit, eventually on our death-bed, as a Comforter, unless we have previously received and accepted him as a
reprover, a corrector, and as a preacher of repentance, into our hearts. The dear disciples of our Lord, and the believers certainly did not come, as it were, with unwashen hands, to the day of pentecost. They had already frequently felt the motions and operations of the Holy Spirit in their hearts; they had been, from the very commencement, obedient to the voice of the dear Saviour, and the call of his Spirit, when at the outset of their conversion, he said to them, “ Follow me,” they forsook all, and followed him. In this manner, these dear believers had already learnt their lesson ; before the day of pentecost arrived. Thus it must be also with us. We must, certainly, first submit ourselves to the reproving office of the Holy Spirit; we must let the truth be told us to our face, and our misery and deep depravity be thoroughly laid open by him to our view, if we are desirous of partaking of his sweet influences, his consolations, and his indwelling life in our hearts. For light and darkness cannot have fellowship with each other. On which account it is therefore highly necessary, that the Holy Spirit, as a Spirit of judgment and burning, as he is called in Isaiah, and as a sharp and pungent hyssop, should previously lay hold of and purify the heart, and render it ca. pable and fit for his blissful indwelling. The soul ought, therefore, for this reason, to pay diligent attention to the first motions of the Holy Spirit, revere his salutary admonitions, and make it her serious endeavour, strictly to obey them. Now whether the Holy Spirit reproves us for small things or great:
we must immediately be ready to receive his corrections with cordiality, and filially submit to them. If it be his will that we deny ourselves, and divest ourselves of our carnal-mindedness, together with all selfishness, lust, and love of the world : we must not lightly pass over it, and think that all this, in due time, will come of itself: we will wait for it until we have experienced the pentecostal day; we will then be more fit for such virtuous exercises. No, my dearest friends ! this is not what is meant, nor is it effected in such a manner. We must strive, particularly at the commencement, to co-operate with the divine assistance. • Work, while it is called today, says the Saviour, for the night cometh, when
man can work. When the individual, either from inattention and slothfulness, gives no heed to the first gracious motions of the Holy Spirit, or else suffers them to pass over, under a variety of specious pretences, without co-operating with them in the smallest degree-this is the only reason why the individual often remains, his life long, an unmortified. and self-willed creature, and is entirely unfit for the reception of the Holy Spirit.
But there are also many souls, who suffer thenselves to be restrained from this co-operation, by the specious pretence, as if by so doing, they were seeking to establish their own righteousness, and as it were, infringe upon the Lord's rights ; but although it be true, that the man, by his own working, easily goes astray, and his first operations are coupled with much infirmity; yet still we must not lay our