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mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting: and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost.” And how great the change, both in their minds and in their hearts! Their minds were enlightened, their hearts were strengthened. The way of salvation became clear to them, through the efficacy of that very death which so lately had reduced them to despair. And their hearts were made bold, and ready to resign anything, and to risk anything in this present world, looking to a glorious recompense in heaven.
With reason, therefore, John taught his disciples to look for one, who, coming after him, should be preferred before him, and should baptize them with the Holy Ghost, and with fire. “ Holy men, indeed, of old, bad spoken as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” And Simeon, as we lately read, being “ filled with the Holy Ghost,” had prophesied of Jesus in the temple: but now the time was come, when the Spirit should exercise a more general and effectual influence, and fulfil the promise of that new covenant, when God should put a new heart and a right spirit within his people.
A promise, we must remember, not given to the apostles, or the first disciples only, but to all who take upon them the faith of Christ. The hearts of all men are as dark by nature as those of the apostles, and equally need the illumination of the Spirit, that they may be guided into truth. But the
But the very first use made by Peter and his brother apostles of the gift bestowed upon them, was to engage a like blessing for all who should obey their exhortation, and adopt their faith. (Acts ii. 38.) “Then Peter said unto
them, Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins; and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The same Spirit which has given us a sufficiency which we have not of ourselves, which has enabled us to stand forth and address you, shall also give you a sufficiency, as believers in Christ, to work out your salvation in the vocation to which ye are called. Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of your faith, ye shall be enabled to lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset you, and to run with patience the race which is set before
you. Such is the promise. That all may ensure it, let all seek it. Avoid whatever may quench the sacred fire, and follow all such things as may excite it more and more, till it burn in your hearts with a steady light, and an ardent flame which shall shine brighter and brighter unto the end.
TESTIMONY OF GOD TO HIS SON.-GENEALOGY
OF JESUS, ON THE SIDE OF MARY.
LUKE iii. 21-38.
(Matt. iii. 13–16. Mark i. 9, 10.) 21. Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened,
3 Heb. xii. 1, 2.
22. And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son : in thee I am well pleased.
Thus Jesus also was baptized. He insisted upon submitting to the ordinance, though “ John forbade him, saying, 1 I have need to be baptized of thee: and comest thou to me?” He chose to give this testimony to the importance of a rite, which was to be the future entrance into his religion. And God confirmed the testimony, and declared by a voice from heaven, that this was He of whom Moses and the prophets had written, whom the nation had been so long expecting, and who was now come to fulfil the promise made to Abraham and his seed for
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
A testimony so important should be carefully weighed, and the consideration of it may help to fix and settle our faith. What was there in the character of Christ, which the Father thus solemnly approves ?
His incarnation had two great objects. First, to make an atonement for sin, and reconcile man to God. And, secondly, to give a rule of righteousness, inculcated by his precepts, and illustrated by his example.
And with the Son, in his two-fold character, as a sacrifice of sin, and an example of righteousness, the Father declares himself well pleased.
1. He was well pleased with him as a sacrifice for sin. He was well pleased, that “
i Matt. ïü. 14.
truth should meet together, that righteousness and peace should kiss each other.” His justice was satisfied by the proof held up to all the universe, that “the wages of sin is death.”
of sin is death.” And the mercy which he delights in was gratified by the deliverance of the penitent offender. He was
He was “in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself,” and saying to all who have ears to hear, “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and return unto the Lord, for he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon."
2. But, further, God was well pleased with his beloved Son, now “ manifest in the flesli," as a pattern of perfect righteousness. It is the nature of God to delight in holiness. Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty.” Our reason tells us that it must be so: and Scripture confirms what our reason tells us, and shows throughout, that sin is “ the abominable thing which he hates : ” that he is of purer eyes than to behold iniquity: that perfect goodness is inseparable from his own nature : and that his creatures, who are in the world, the nearer they approach to goodness, are more and more the objects of his regard and favour. Now the Lord Jesus was altogether holy. His enemies could find no fault in him : he was without spot of sin: and he displayed in his life and conversation an example of unblemished purity; an example of uninterrupted godliness; an example of meekness, of courteousness, of patience, and forgiveness ; an example of universal love and charity; an example of unwearied diligence in the service of God.
This character was not merely described or recommended, but seen and practised in the life of the Lord Jesus. Tempted in all points like as we are, he was yet without sin :” when he was reviled, he reviled not again : when he suffered, he threatened not: the mind that was in him was of one “meek and lowly of heart.” Armed with “ the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” he resisted the devil, and the devil fled from him. The principle on which he lived and acted, was the glory of God, and the love of man. And with this example of perfect and unspotted righteousness, God declares himself well pleased.
Such was the ground of that testimony, which God now gave publicly to the character of his beloved Son. And the voice came not on account of him, but for our sakes, that we might learn to contemplate that character, and approve it too.
1. God was well pleased that his Son should pay the price of our redemption, and reconcile us to himself. Are we also well pleased with this ? Are we willing to confess, that in ourselves we have nothing to plead or claim, but must receive “eternal life as the gift of God, through Jesus Christ ?' If not, our mind, and the mind of God, do not agree: we must look closer into ourselves, closer into the holy law of God, and closer into that judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed; and so learn to thank God,“ that by grace we are saved, through faith; not of works, lest any man should boast.” 2 We must receive Christ under
2 Eph. ii. 8, 9.