« הקודםהמשך »
saying, Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts, heaven and earth are full of thy glory. Glory be to thee, O Lord most high. Amen.
FAITH OF THE ASCENSION.
I BELIEVE, O victorious love, that thou, after thy conquest over death and hell, didst ascend in triumph to heaven, that thou mightest prepare mansions for us, and from thence, as conqueror, bestow the gifts of thy conquest on us; and above all, the gift of the Holy Spirit; that thou mightest enter into the holy of holies, as our great High Priest, to present to thy Father the sweet-smelling sacrifice of his crucified Son, the sole propitiation for sinners; and therefore all love, all glory be to thee. Glory be to thee, O Jesus, who didst leave the world, and ascend to heaven about the thirty-third year of thy age, to teach us, in the prime of our years, to despise this world when we are best able to enjoy it, and to receive our full vigour for heaven and for thy love.
O thou, whom my soul loveth, since thou hast left the world, what was there ever in it worthy of our love! O let all my affections ascend after thee, and never return to the earth more; for whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire in comparison of thee. Amen.
WHITSUNDAY. A MOVEABLE FEAST.
Q. What Festival does the church this day celebrate? A. The descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles in the visible appearance of fiery cloven tongues,' and
⚫ Acts ii. 3.
in those miraculous powers which were then conferred upon them.
Q. Why do we call this Festival Whitsunday? A. Partly from the glorious light of heaven, which was this day sent down upon the earth from the Father of lights; but principally because this day, being one of the stated times for baptism in the ancient church, those who were baptised put on white garments, as types of that spiritual purity they received in baptism; and which they were obliged to preserve in the future course of their lives.
Q. Which were the stated times for baptism in the primitive church?
A. At first all persons were baptised as opportunity and occasion served; and when there were appointed seasons, infants and the sick received baptism at all times. But when the discipline of the church began to be settled, it was confined to two solemn and stated times of the year, Easter and Whitsuntide, including the intermediate space of fifty days that is between them; which was in a manner accounted Festival, and baptism administered during the whole time.
Q. Why were Easter and Whitsuntide appointed for this purpose?
A. Easter was appointed in memory of Christ's death and resurrection; correspondent to which are the two parts of the Christian life represented in baptism, dying unto sin, and rising again to newness of life. Whitsuntide in memory of the Apostles being then baptised with the Holy Ghost and with fire, and of their having at that time baptized themselves three thousand souls; this communication of the Holy Ghost to the Apostles,
being in some measure represented and conveyed in baptism.
Q. Why was baptism deferred to these stated times? A. That adult converts, who made up the body of baptized persons in those days, might be fitted and prepared for their solemn admission into the church by this sacrament. In order to this purpose, they were for some considerable time catechised and instructed in the principles of the Christian faith, from whence the candidates of baptism were called catechumens; they were obliged to give testimony of their proficiency in Christian knowledge to the bishop or presbyter, who were appointed to examine them upon such points; they were further to give proof of a sober and regular conversation, and, that they might be the better disposed to receive the greater benefits of this sacrament, they prepared themselves, by prayer and fasting in a strict observation of the holy season of Lent. As for the children of Christian parents, they were admitted to baptism in their infancy.
Q. When were the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost conferred upon the Apostles?
A. Upon the day of Pentecost, which was observed by the Jews fifty days after their passover, in memory of the law delivered at Mount Sinai, and for the gathering and bringing in of their harvest.
Q. What was the first effect of the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the Apostles?
A. They began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Whereby they who were Jews, were enabled in an instant to publish that religion, which God had revealed to them, all over the world.
• Acts ii. 4.
Q. Did the inhabitants of Jerusalem take any notice of this matter?
A. Yes; at the noise of it, those Jews, that were assembled at Jerusalem, from all parts, to observe the day of Pentecost, came together unto the place, and were confounded, because every man heard the Apostles speak in their own language wherein they were born.d
Q. Wherein did this gift of tongues consist?
A. Not in a capacity of speaking several languages at the same instant, for that is impossible; but in speaking several languages, without ever having had the advantage of learning them. So that the several nations then present, heard some or other of the Apostles speaking in their own language.*
Q. How was this gift conferred upon the Apostles? A. Suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty rushing 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.f
Q. What does this sound from heaven, as of a mighty rushing wind represent to us?
A. It is a fit emblem of the divine Spirit, by whose efficacy the gospel was to have a speedy and unexpected success. To this our Saviour had compared it in his discourse with Nicodemus. And it signifies to us, that the publication of the gospel was attended with the same divine presence and power, that the giving of the law was; but not with the same circumstances of terror.
Q. What do the cloven tongues, as it were of fire, represent to us?
A. Not only the diversity of languages, miraculously infused into the Apostles, to enable them to preach to
divers nations; but the quick and piercing efficacy of their speech.
Q. What mean these cloven fiery tongues sitting upon each of them?
A. It signifies that this gift of tongues was constant, because they had continual use of it; and that it was common to all the Apostles, because they were all to be publishers of the gospel, and the witnesses of our Lord's resurrection; which was the great miracle whereby the gospel was to be confirmed.
Q. What evidence is there that this miracle was real, and that there was no manner of deceit in it?
A. It was publicly wrought before many witnesses, and those enemies to the Apostles, as being the disciples of him they had so lately crucified. They gave proof of this miraculous power, in the presence of great multitudes of several nations, and in all places where they went preaching the gospel.
Q. Might not the Apostles craftily combine together to impose upon the world by the pretence of such a miracle, after having acquired the knowledge of languages by study and industry?
A. No; because they were not strangers at Jerusalem; their persons were known as the followers of Jesus; and so was their mean condition and illiterate education; which gave them no opportunities to attain this skill in an ordinary way. And where they were not known, their affirming that this gift was supernaturally conferred upon them, was supported by the power they had to work other miracles of all kinds, which they every where did frequently; and particularly in this kind, having a power to impart the same gift to others by the imposition of hands."
h Acts xix. 6.