And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.…
(second sermon): —
I. IT IS IN THE PRESENCE OF THE HOLY GHOST THAT WE FIND THE TRUE UNION OF THE CHURCH. There are diversities of operation, and must always be, but such diversity does not impair the unity of the Spirit. There is one faith, though there be many creeds, one baptism, though there be many forms of it, one Lord, though He shine in a thousand different lights. We have been vainly looking for union in uniformity. Consider how irrational this is. Is the human race one or many? is there any difficulty in identifying a man whatever his colour, form, stature, language? — yet are there any two men exactly alike? Man has, say, some seven features, forehead, eyes, nose, mouth, chin, form or contour, colour or complexion, yet out of those seven notes what music of facial expression has God wrought? It is so in the Christian Church. That is split up into a score of sects, but the Church itself is one. To those who look upon things from the outside merely, it would seem impossible that the Arminian and the Calvinist can both be readers of the same Bible, and worshippers of the same God. But their unity is not found in formality, in creedal expression, in propositional theology, in ecclesiastical arrangement; down in the centre of the heart lies the common organic nerve that unites Christendom in its worship and in its hope; and when the Cross is touched, the defence never comes from any one section, the whole Church with unanimous love and loyalty rushes to the vindication. This has been illustrated by the diversities which occur in the expressions of sorrow, worship, and loyalty. The Eastern sufferer lies prostrate, crying piteously and vehemently. The Western is silent and self-controlled. The difference is not in the sorrow, but in the manifestation of the sorrow. So the Oriental before his king falls fiat on the ground, and the Briton before his God only kneels. Is there, then, a difference in the spirit of worship?
II. HAVE WE RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST? THE QUESTION DOES NOT ADMIT OF HESITATION AS TO ITS ANSWER.
1. No man can mistake the summer sun when he sees it; he will not come home with a half tale of having seen some kind of light, but is not quite sure whether it was a gas jet, or the shining of an electric light, or a new star. The sun needs no introduction, has no signature but its own glory, and needs take no oath in proof of its identity. The shadows know it, and flee away; the flowers, and open their little hearts to its blessing; all the hills and valleys know it and quiver with a new joy.
2. We may have the form, and not the spirit. People say the great thing after all for a man to do is to do good. That is correct. But what would you think of me if I said the great thing after all is for a train to go, when the train has not been attached to the engine? You are perfectly right in saying that the train is useless if it does not go, and if the train is going it is all right. But you must bring within your argument the fact that the engine could not go without the fire, that the tram cannot go unless attached to the engine, that the engine and the train move, vibrate, fly, under the power of light — the light that was sealed up in the bins of the earth ten thousand ages ago is driving your great locomotives to-day I When, therefore, you tell me that a man must do good, and that is enough, you omit from your statement the vital consideration that we can only do these things as we are inspired by the indwelling Spirit of God. I see before me at this moment certain pieces of cord. What is wanted is but to connect these cords with a motive power, but until the connection is established they are but dead useless things. Connect them, set the engine going, let it cause the necessary rotations to fly, and presently an arrangement may be made by which from these cords we shall receive a dazzling glory. They are nothing in themselves, and yet without them the engine might go for a thousand ages and we should get no light. It is even so with us. We are here, men educated, intelligent, well-appointed, and what is it that we need but connection with the heavens, direct communication with the source of light and fire.
III. WHEN THE HOLY SPIRIT IS COMMUNICATED TO THE CHURCH, WE MUST NOT IMAGINE THAT WE SHALL BE OTHER THAN OURSELVES, ENLARGED, ENNOBLED, AND DEVELOPED. The Spirit will not merge our individuality in a common monotony. Whatever your power is now, the incoming of the Holy Ghost will magnify and illuminate, so that your identity Will be carried up to its highest expression and significance. And more than that, there will be a development of latent faculties, slumbering powers, the existence of which has never been suspected by our dearest friends. Look for surprises in the Church when the Holy Ghost falls upon it: dumb men will speak, ineloquent men will attract and fascinate by the sublimity of their new discourse, timid men will put on the lion, and those who had hidden themselves away in the obscurity of conscious feebleness will come out and offer themselves at the Lord's altar to help in the Lord's service. The resources of the Church will be multiplied in proportion as the Church enjoys the presence and power of the Holy Ghost. How the old earth has continued to keep pace with all our civilisation and science. The electric light was, as to its possibilities, in Eden, as certainly as it is in the metropolis of England to-day. The locomotive has not created anything but a new combination and a new application and use. It is even so in the Bible. The Church knows nothing yet about the possibilities of revelation. No new Bible will be written, but new readers will come. We have learning and ability and industry enough; what we want is the baptism of the Holy Ghost.
(J. Parker, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.