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for ever done away; and the lingering unbelief of the Preacher, who, as the rest of the Apostles, could not understand that the gospel should be extended to the Gentiles, was subdued at length by seeing that "God is no respecter of persons," that "God also to the Gentiles had granted repentance unto life."
The Sermon-"While Peter yet spake these words." -The appointment to his office, the life, the death, the resurrection, the second coming of Jesus Christ, verses 38-42. The witness of all the prophets to the truth, now for the first time to be carried into practice, that "through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins;" that Gospel, which, according to the testimony of the Apostle Paul, speaking by the holy Spirit, is the "power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth."
The God that giveth the increase" While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them that heard the word." The Apostles were commanded not to depart from Jerusalem till they had received the Spirit from on high-till this day of Pentecostal blessedness should have arrived. In vain had Peter stood up and lifted up his voice to the thousands of assembled Jews; in vain had the great Apostle of the Gentiles spread the "joyful sound " through the then known world; the Jew would have remained in the final unbelief and obstinacy which made the preaching of the Cross a stumbling-block; and the Gentiles would have regarded the same standard of salvation set up for them "foolishness" still, had not God that giveth the increase, God the Holy Ghost, applied with demonstration and power the word spoken to the hearts of hearers prepared of him. to welcome them.
The effect produced-Twofold; astonishing to the believing Jews whose minds were still unprepared to witness it; "They of the circumcision were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." Secondly, On these Gentiles, "They heard them speak with tongues and glorify God:" 1st, an extraordinary effect peculiar to those infant days of the Gospel Church, granted by God as a sign to them that believe not that it was his own work: then the miraculous power of speaking in various languages without study or preparation; by which they were enabled to extend at once the knowledge of salvation through the world; and also the ordinary effect, belonging to all ages, of that outpouring of the Holy Ghost which taught them to use their power to glorify God. Lastly, The introduction of the believing Gentiles into the communion of the Church of Christ; "Can any man forbid water," &c. They had evidently received the Holy Ghost, what then should hinder but that that one last command should be fulfilled towards them who had evidently received the instruction by which they had been made disciples of Christ-that they should be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and so be blessed and owned by God and his Church as full partakers of all the blessings of "the common salvation." In like manner bath the great Head of the Church, who had "granted unto the Gentiles repentance unto life," fitted Apostles and Prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, from that time to this for the same work; still accompanying the preaching of the same truths with more or less of the power of the same Holy
Ghost, and causing the same effect to be seen in a people glorifying God, and united in the bonds of "one faith [and] one baptism." And are not we here this day living witnesses to these things? Was it not the same gospel which the Apostle Peter preached in Cornelius' house that was brought to this isle of the sea in which we live; preached to our heathen forefathers, accompanied by the power of the Holy Ghost which taught them to cast away their gods many, and lords many, to bow to the name of Jesus; and, experiencing the grant "of repentance unto life," to become a part of the baptized followers of the cross. And are not we at this moment revelling in the full enjoyment of the light of his salvation, sown amid the tears of Missionary labour in apostolic times, growing, up the blade, the ear, the full corn in the ear; and what though the pestilential blight of Popery did so oppress the thriving plant that much fruit did wither, and many leaves did fade; yet, the root still remaining, our Reformers spared not the watering of their own blood that it might shoot forth with fresh vigour, bear all and more than all her former fruits, stretching her boughs far and wide-the glory of our land, the great delight of all those who know by experience the value of sitting under her shadow. But, as the converted Hindoo beautifully remarked, The grace of God for this reason has been given you, that you being in Christ Jesus, called and faithful, might send the same grace into all the world.' And this is God's dealing naturally and spiritually. Is the sun set in the midst of the heavens, and all light concentrated in that body? it is that he may rejoice as a bridegroom to run his race from east to west, and that
nothing may be hid from the heat and light thereof. Is Christ Jesus the great Sun of Righteousness, in whom all the fulness of the God-head dwelleth bodily? it is that that fulness may fill all in all; that he may be a light to lighten the Gentiles, and be the glory of his people Israel. Did our Lord intrust the mysteries of his kingdom to the ears of his disciples? it was that they should proclaim them on the house tops. Amid the destruction of Jerusalem was not a hair of their head suffered to perish? it was that they might testify the gospel of the grace of God from pole to pole. Has God intrusted England with power, talent, influence, light, and knowledge, to which the history of the world finds no parallel else where it is that those talents may be employed for the glory of God, in distributing of our own superabundant blessings to a needy world. A needy world lies before you: I plead for six hundred million of your fellow creatures this day who are living and dying in need of salvation; who sacrifice, as the Apostle tells you the heathen of old did, "to devils and not to God;" who bow down themselves to gods many and lords many, but are ignorant of the true God. Mothers who give, as of old, the fruit of the womb as the atonement for the sin of the soul; who sprinkle the blood of fowls, of beasts, yea of men, as the king of Edom of old, but are in total ignorance of that only "blood which cleanseth from all sin." I plead for millions whom the joyful sound of the gospel has never yet reached, perishing for lack of knowledge; and my plea is the command of my Saviour still unrepealed, "Go ye into all the world," &c. But are any ready to doubt, like those of the circumcision in our text, whether the
gospel can have any effect on the heathen idolater? whether the Holy Ghost will fall on such? whether such can be received by baptism into the common flock of the Church of Christ at home? then men, brethren, and fathers, hearken: God hath stirred the minds of many Pastors and members of our Church some forty years ago to think, and thinking to mourn over (as every one that thinks must do) the miserable state of the heathen world; and seeing that in our own Church there was no society that had the heathen world as the object of its care, they formed themselves into one. For forty years their Missionaries, as evangelists on whose heads the Bishops have laid their hands, ordaining them for that purpose, have been speaking to the heathen, in various parts of the world, the words which made up St. Peter's sermon -Christ Jesus the Lord, the appointed Saviour of his Church, living, and dying, and rising again, coming to judgment-backed with the blessed assurance belonging alike to the disciple of Brahmin and of Budhu, the cannibal savage of New Zealand, and the Red Indian American, that "through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." But has the God that giveth the increase poured out his holy Spirit upon those heathen who have heard the word? Ask the savages of Africa, the emancipated slaves who form our congregations, our schools, our communicants at Sierra Leone. Let us ask the millions of India who have heard the joyful sound; let us ask the cannibal New Zealander. If it be true then that these things are so; if such be the awful state of the heathen world, "Without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers