And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing, mighty 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. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
We are this day, beside our weekly due of the Sabbath, to renew and to celebrate the yearly memory of the sending down the Holy Spirit. One of the Magnalia Dei, as they be [107/108] termed after in the eleventh verse; one of 'the great and wonderful benefits of God;' indeed, a benefit so great and so wonderful as there were not tongues enough upon earth to celebrate it withal, but there were fain to be more sent from Heaven to help to sound it out throughly, even a new supply of tongues from Heaven. For all the tongues in earth were not sufficient to magnify God for His goodness, in sending down to men the gift of the Holy Ghost.
This we may make a several benefit by itself, from those of Christ's. And so the Apostle seemeth to do. First, 'God sent His Son,' in one verse; and then after, 'God sent the Spirit of His Son' in another.
Or we may hold our continuation still, and make this the last of Christ's benefits; for ascendit in altum is not the last, there is one still remaining, which is, dona dedit hominbus. And that is this day's peculiar; wherein were given to men many and manifold both graces and gifts, and all in one gift, the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Howsoever we make it, sure it is that all the rest, all the feasts hitherto in the return of the year from His Incarnation to the very last of His Ascension, though all of them be great and worthy of all honour in themselves, yet to us they are as nothing, any of them or all of them, even all the feasts in the Calendar, without this day, the feast which now we hold holy to the sending of the Holy Ghost.
Christ is the Word, and all of Him but words spoken or words written, there is no seal put to till this day; the Holy Spirit is the seal or signature, in Quo signati estis. A testament we have and therein many fair legacies, but still this day nothing administered 'The administration are the Spirit's.' In all of these of Christ's there is but the purchase made and paid for, and as they say, jus ad rem acquired; but jus in re, missio in possessionem, livery and seizin, that is reserved till this day; for the Spirit is the Arrha, 'the earnest' or the investiture of all that Christ hath done for us.
These, if we should compare them, it would not be easy to determine, whether the greater of these two: 1. That of the Prophet, Filius datus est nobis; 2. Or that of the Apostle, Spiritus datus est nobis; the ascending of our flesh, or the descending of His Spirit; incarnatio Dei, or inspiratio hominis; [108/109] the mystery of His incarnation, or the mystery of our inspiration. For mysteries they are both, and 'great mysteries of godliness' both; and in both of them. 'God manifested in the flesh.' 1. In the former, by the union of His Son; 2. In the latter, by the communion of His blessed Spirit.
But we shall not compare them, they are both above all comparison. Yet this we may safely say of them: without either of them we are not complete, we have not our accomplishment; but by both we have, and that fully, even by this day's royal exchange. Whereby, as before He of ours, so now we of His are made partakers. He clothed with our flesh, and we invested with His Spirit. The great promise of the Old Testament accomplished, that He should partake our human nature; and the great and precious promise of the New, that we should be consortes divinae naturæ, 'partake His divine nature,' both are this day accomplished. That the text well beginneth with dum complerentur, for it is our complement indeed; and not only ours, but the very gospel's too. It is Tertullian; Christus Legis, Spiritus Sanctus Evangeli complementum; 'the coming of Christ was the fulfilling of the Law, the coming of the Holy Ghost is the fulfilling of the Gospel.'
Of which coming of the Holy Ghost the report is here set down by St. Luke; both of the 1. time, and 2. the manner of it. 1. The time, in the first words, 'when the day of Pentecost was come.' 2. The manner, in all the rest of the four verses.
And the manner, first, on their parts to whom He came; of the preparation for His coming, in the first verse. And then the manner of His coming, in the other three.
On their parts to whom He came, how they stood prepared, how they were found framed and fitted to receive Him when He came, in these three: 1. 'They were all of one accord;' 2. 'They were all in one place;' 3. And both these, dum complerentur, 'even so long, till the fifty days were fulfilled.'
On His part the manner of His coming to them thus prepared. 1. First, as it is propunded in type or figure, in the second and third verses; 2. And then, as it is expounded in truth and in deed, in the fourth.
[109/110] I. In type or figure, symboloce, and that is two ways, agreeable to the chief senses, 1. the hearing, and 2. the sight. 1. To the hearing, by 'a sound,' in the second verse; 2. To the sight, by a show, in the third.
I. To the hearing, by 'a sound,' in the second, 'A sound of a wind'- 'a wind,' 1. 'sudden,' 2. 'vehement,' 3. 'that came from Heaven,' and 4. 'filled that place where they sat.'
2. To the sight, by a show, in the third. There appeared 1. 'tongues;' 2. 'cloven;' 3. 'as it were of fire;' 4. 'which sat upon each of them.' Thus far the figure.
2. Then in the fourth, followeth the thing itself. Which verse is, as it were, a commentary of the two former. 1. Of the wind inward, in the first part of it, and these words; 'They were filled with the Holy Ghost.' 2. Of the tongues outward, in the latter, and these words; 'They began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.'
The one, to represent the inward operation. The other, the outward manifestation of the Spirit. Thus standeth the order, these are the parts.
The first point is the time of His coming, that is, 'The day of Pentecost.'
1. Why that day? The day of Pentecost was a great feast under the Law, and meet it was this coming should be at some great feast. 1. The first dedication of Christ's Catholic Church on earth, 2. the first publishing the Gospel, 3. the first proclaiming the Apostle's commission, were so great matters as it was not meet they should be obscurely carried, stolen as it were, or 'done in a corner.' Much lay upon them; and fit it was they should be done in as great an assembly as might be. And so they were; even in a concourse, as in the fifth verse it is, 'of every nation under Heaven;' that so notice might be taken of it, and by them carried all over the world, even to the utmost corners of the earth. St. Paul said well to King Agrippa; 'This is well enough known, this was not done in a corner.' 2. At a great feast it was meet, but there were many great feasts; why at this feast, the feast of Pentecost.
It is agreed by all interpreters old and new--Cyprian is the first we find it in--that it was to hold harmony, to keep correspondence between the two Testaments, the Old and the New. [110/111] So it was at Christ's death we see. He was slain, not only as the Lamb was, but even when the Lamb was slain too: on the feast of the Passover, then was 'Christ our Passover' offered for us.
Now, from the feast of the Passover, reckoning fifty days, they came to Sinai; and there on that day, the day of Pentecost, received they the Law--a memorable day with them, a high feast, even for so great a benefit; and is therefore by them called the feast of the Law.
And even the very same day, reckoning from 'Christ our Passover' fifty days, that the Law was given in Sinai, the very same day doth the new 'Law' here 'go out of Sion,' as the prophet Isaiah foretold, exibit de Sion Lex; which is nothing else but the promulgation of the Gospel. 'The royal Law,' as St. James calleth it, as given by Christ our King: the other but by Moses, a servant, and savoureth therefore of 'the spirit of bondage,' the fear of servants; as this doth of the princely spirit, 'the spirit of ingenuity and adoption,' the love of children.
On the feast of Pentecost then, because then was given the Law of Christ, written in our hearts by the Holy Ghost.
To this doth Chrysostom join a second harmony. That as under the law, at this feast, they first put their sickle to the corn-harvest, in that climate, beginning with them in this month--the first fruits whereof they offered at Easter, and was called therefore by them festum messis; in like sort we see that this very day, the Lord of the harvest so disposing it, Who not long before 'lifting up His eyes and looking on the regions round about saw them white and ready to the harvest,' His first workmen, the Apostles, did put in their first sickle into the great harvest, cujus ager est mundus, 'whereof the world is the field,' and the several furrows of it, 'all the nations under heaven.' On the feast of Pentecost then second, because then began the great spiritual harvest.
To these two doth St. Augustine add a third, taken out of the number, in the very name of Pentecost, and that is fifty. Which being all along the law the number of the Jubilee, which was the time of forgiving of debts, and restoring men to their first estates, it falleth fit with the proclaiming of the Gospel, done presently here in the thirty-eighth verse of this [111/112] chapter, which is an act of God's most gracious general free pardon of all the sins of all the sinners in the world.
And no less fit falleth it for our restitution, whereunto Cyril applieth excellently the thirtieth verse of the hundred and fourth psalm, emitte Spiritum Tuum et creabuntur, et renovabis faciem terrae. Showing there was first an emission of the Spirit into man at his creation, which being since choked with sin and so comes to nothing, this day there is here a second emission of the same Spirit into man, full to restore and renew him, and in him the whole mass of the creation. On the day of Pentecost then last, because therein is the true number and force of the true Jubilee. This for the choice of the time.
The number thus settled, we descend to the second point, of the manner. And first, on their parts on whom the Holly Ghost came; how He found them framed, and fit to receive such a guest. It is called by the Fathers, Parascene Spiritus, 'the preparation,' as there was one for the Passover, so her for Pentecost.
It is truly said by the philosopher, that actus activorum sunt in patiente disposito; 'if the patient be prepared aright, the agent will have his work, both the sooner and the better.' And so consequently the Spirit in his coming, if the parties to whom He cometh be made perspirable.
And this is three-fold, set down in these words: 1. 'They were all with one accord;' 2. 'They were all in one place.' A double unity: 1. Unity of mind, ( so is ÑmoqumdÕu qumoà,) or of hearts, (so is 'accord,' cordium) 2. And secondly, unity of the place. 3. And thirdly, these two, dum complerentur; patiently expecting, while the fifty days were accomplished.
Unity is the first--unity of mind. And for it, take but any spirit that is to give life to a natural body; can any spirit animate or give life to members dismembered, unless they be first united and compact together? It cannot: unity must prepare the way to any spirit, though but natural. A fair example we have in Ezekiel, chapter the thirty-seventh. A sort of scattered dead bones there lay; they were to be revived. First, 'the bones came together, every bone to his bone;' then, 'the sinews grew and knit them;' then, 'the flesh and skin, and covered them;' and then, when they were thus united, then and not before called He for the [112/113] spirit from the four winds, to enter them and to give them life. No spirit, not the ordinary natural spirit, will come, but where there is a way made and prepared by accord and unity of the body.
Now then take the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of spirits, the third person in Trinity; He is the very essential unity, love, and love-knot of the two persons, the Father and the Son; even of God with God. And He is sent to be the union, love and love-knot of the two natures in Christ; even of God with man. And can we imagine that He will enter, essential Unity, but where there is unity of spirit? Verily there is not, there cannot possibly be a more proper and peculiar, a more true and certain disposition, to make us meet for Him, than that quality in us, that is likest His nature and essence, that is, unanimity. Faith to the Word, and love to the Spirit, are the true preparatives. And there is not a greater bar, a more fatal or forcible opposition to His entry, than discord, and di-united minds, and such as are 'the gall of bitterness;' they can neither give nor recieve the Holy Ghost. Divisum est cor eorum, jamjam interibunt, saith the Prophet; 'their heart is divided,' their 'accord' is gone, that cord is untwisted; they cannot live, the Spirit is gone too.
And do we marvel, that the Spirit doth scarcely pant in us? That we sing and say, 'Come Holy Ghost' and yet He cometh no faster? Why, the day of Pentecost is come, and we are not 'all of one accord.' Accord is wanting; the very first point is wanting, to make us meet for His first coming. Sure, His after-coming will be like to be His first; to them that are, and not to any but them that are, 'of one accord.'
And who shall make us 'of one accord' High shall be his reward in Heaven, and happy his remembrance on earth, that shall be the means to restore this 'accord' to the Church; that once we may keep a true and perfect Pentecost, like this here, erant omnes unanimter. I pass to the second.
But suppose we were of 'one accord,' is not that enough? May we not spare this other, of 'one place?' If our minds be one, for the place it skills not; it is but a circumstance or ceremony; what should we stand at it? Yes sure; seeing the Holy Ghost hath thought it so needful as to enter it, we [113/114] may not pass over it, or leave it out. Not only 'of one mind,' that is unamity, but also 'on one place,' too, that is, uniformity. Both 'in the unity of the Spirit' that is, inward, and 'in the bond of peace' too, that is, outward. An item for those whom the Apostle calleth filii substractionis, that is forsake the congregation, as even then in the Apostles time' 'the manner of some' was, 'and to withdraw themselves to their perdition,' to no less matter. God's will is, we should be, as upon one foundation, so under one roof; he that maketh men of one mind to dwell in one house. Therefore it is expressly noted of the company here, in the text, where they prayed, 'they prayed all together;' when they heard, 'they heard all together;' when they broke bread, they did it all together. All together ever: not in one place some, and some in another; but all eu tÕ aÙtÕ all 'in one and the self-dame place.' For say what they will, division of places will not long be without division of minds. This must be our ground. The same Spirit, Who loves unanimity, loves uniformity; unity even in matter of circumstance, in matter of place. Thus the Church was begun, thus it must be continued.
To these do the Fathers join a third, which they raise out of the words, dum complerentur. A disposition in them whereby they held out, and stirred not even till the fifty days were fulfilled. That former, unanimity; this latter, longanimity. There is in us a hot hasty spirit, impatient of any delay: what we would have, we would have out of hand; and these same dum and donec, and such like words, we love them not. This spirit was even in these here, the Apostles themselves, at the first, as we may see in these here, the Apostles themselves, at the first, as we may see in the last chapter, verse the sixth, where they shew it; Domine jamne vis? 'Lord wilt Thou now?' even now? by and by? But that spirit He cast out, with non est vestrum, &c. Manete vos dum. After which charge given, though at the instant of His ascending He promised He would send them the Holly Ghost, yet they did not look for Him the same afternoon; nor stayed but till the morrow after the Ascension-day; nor, as the Bethulians' stint was, four or 'five days' at the farthest, and then waxed weary, and would wait no longer; but as he willed them to wait, so they did wait; not five days, but five and five; and so [114/115] continued waiting, even usque dum complerentur, till they were accomplished; and brake not up neither, to keep holy-day, but held on their waiting, holy-days and all.
We said before, this feast had divers names; 1. The feast of the law, 2. 'The feast of harvest,' 3. The feast of Pentecost: we may put to a fourth out of Deuteronomy, chapter sixteen, verse ten. It is there called 4. 'the feast of weeks.' It is not hours will serve the turn, nor yet days; it must be weeks, and as many weeks as be days in a week, to make it Pentecost, that is, fifty days. Thus long they sat by it, as it is in the next verse, and tarried patiently the Lord's leisure, till He came unto them. Qui crediderit ne festinet, saith the Prophet Esay, 'he that believeth let him not be hasty;' and si moram fecerit, expecta Eum, saith Habakkuk, 'if He happen to stay, stay for Him.' And so we shall, if we call to mind this, that He hath waited for us and our conversion more years than we do days for Him. And this withal, veniendo veniet; stay He may for a time, but, if we wait, come He will certainly; and when He cometh, manebit vobis in æternum, 'He will never forsake us, but continue with us for ever.' Dum complerentur shall have his accomplishment.
And in this manner doth the Scripture bear witness of them they were prepared, and that they sped of the Spirit; and let us of like preparing look for like success.
And now we come to the manner of His coming. And that, first in type sensibly, thus described. 1. 'There came a sound;' 2. 'There were seen tongues,' which is a sensible kind of coming.
And that is a coming rare, and nothing usual with the Holy Spirit, Which as an invisible Spirit, comes for the most part invisibly. So saith Job: 'He cometh to me, and I see Him not.' It was thus here for this once; but after we see, in the tenth chapter, He came upon Cornelius and his company; and after that, upon the twelve at Ephesus, in the ninth chapter. But on neither, that aught could be seen nor heard; only discerned by some effect He wrought in them. He that best knew the Spirit, Christ, sets us down the manner of His coming: Spiritus spirat, sed nescis unde aut quo, 'He doth come and inspire, but how or which way, that know you not.' [115/116] Yet here in this present case, for this once, it was meet He should thus come in state; and that there should be a solemn, set, sensible descending of it.
1. Meet, that no less honour done to this law of Sion, than to that of Sinai, which was public, and full of Majesty; and so was this to be.
2. Meet, that having once before been, and never but once, upon Christ the Head, it should be so once more on the Church too, the Body. It pleased Him to vouchsafe to grace the Church, His Queen, with like solemn inauguration to that of His own, when the Holy Ghost descended on Him in likeness of a dove; that she might, no less than He Himself, receive from Heaven like solemn attestation.
3. Lastly, meet it was it should remain to the memory of all ages testified, that a day there was when even apparently to sense mankind was visited from on high; and that this wind here, and these tongues cam not for nought, at so high a feat, in so great an assembly.
This coming then of His, thus in state, is such as it was both to be heard and seen, to the ear and the eye both. So saith St. Peter of it after: 'Being thus exalted,' saith he of Christ, 'and having received the promise of the Father, He hath shed forth this which you now both see and hear.' And with good reason both: to both senses is the Holy Spirit presented. To the ear, which is the sense of faith; to the eye, which is the sense of love. The ear that is the ground of the word, which is audible; the eye, which is the ground of the Sacraments, which are visible.
To the ear in a noise, to the eye in a show; a noise of a mighty wind, a show of fiery tongues. The noise serving as a trumpet, to awake the world, and give them warning He was come. The fiery tongues, as so many lights to show them, and to let them see the day of that their visitation.
To begin with the first. 'There came a sound.' Which very sound is to shew that the Spirit, whereof it is the forerunner, is no dumb Spirit, but vocal. And so it is. 'The sound thereof is not only gone into all lands,' but hath been heard in all ages: before the flood it sounded in 'Enoch a Prophet,' and 'Noah a preacher of righteousness.' All the law long it sounded in them, by whom 'Moses was preached every Sabbath day.' [116/117] The very beginning of the Gospel was with a sound, Vox clamantis; and, but for this sound, St. Paul knoweth not how we should do. 'How should they believe, saith he, in Him of Whom they have not heard?' and without a sound, there is no hearing. But we shall come to this again in the apparition of the tongues.
'There came a sound,' and not any sound. It will not be amiss to weight what kind of sound is expressed in the word here used, Âcoj. You know what sound an echo is; a sound at the second hand, a sound at the rebound. Verbum Domini venit ad nos; 'The word of the Lord cometh to us:' there is the first sound, to us; and ours is but the echo, the reflection of it to you. God's first, and then ours second. For if it come from us directly, and not from Him to us first, and from us then to you, echo-wise, it is to be suspected. A sound it may be, the Holy Ghost cometh not with it; His forerunner it is not, for that is Âcoj.
'There came a sound,' and it was 'the sound of a wind;' and this too, very fitly. For the wind which is here the type of the Holy Spirit, of all the creatures does best express it.
1. For first, of all bodily things it is the least bodily, and comes nearest to the nature of a spirit, invisible as it is.
2. And secondly, quick and active as the Spirit is. Of the wind it is said, Usque adeo agit, ut nisi agat non sit; so active it is as, no stirring the air, no action, no wind: even so, no operation, no spirit. So like, as both have but one name; nay, all three but one. 1. The wind in the wide world, 2. the breath in our bodies, 3. and the Spirit in the mystical body, the Church. And much ado we have to distinguish them in many places, they be taken so one for another.
Now, this 'wind' that came and made this sound, is here described with four properties. 1. It fell 'suddenly;' 2. it was 'mighty' or violent; 3. it came 'from Heaven;' 4. 'it filled that place where they sat'--that place and no other. Of which, the two first are ordinary, and, like the wind, common: 1. To be sudden, 2. and to be violent. The other two not so, but dislike: 3. To come from Heaven, 4. and to keep itself within one place; and that, of no great compass.
It fell suddenly, ¥fuw_ feeromh. So doth the wind. It rises oftentimes in the midst of a calm, gives no warning, [117/118] but rusheth up of a sudden; and even so does the Spirit. For that 'cometh not by observation' neither, saith our Saviour, you can make no set rules of it; you must wait for It as well when It cometh not, as when It comes. Many times It is 'found of them that seek It not,' and therefore little account make of It, and therefore little deserve It. Cecidit super eum Spiritus, is so common in both the Old and New Testament, as we can make no doubt of this. Which sheweth It falls suddenly, It creeps not: serpentis est serpere. Commonly, motions that come from the serpent, creep upon us; but, nescit tarda molimina Spiritus Sancti gratia, saith Ambrose. Velociter currit sermo Ejus, 'His word runneth very swiftly,' and ''His Spirit cometh with the wings of the wind.' And therefore sudden, saith Gregory, because things, if they be not sudden, awake us not, affect us not; but, 'sudden things start us and make us look up.' And therefore sudden, saith he again, that men may learn not to despise present motions of grace, though suddenly rising in them, and though they can give no certain reason of them, but take the wind while it blows, and the water while the Angel moves it, as not knowing when it will, or whether ever it will blow again, or stir any more. It is ¥fu_w ferouh, it fell on a sudden.
It was 'a mighty' or vehement 'wind.' The wind is so, and the Spirit is so; both in this, well sorted together.
Of the wind it is a common observation, that being nothing else but a puff of air, the thinnest, the poorest, and to our seeming of the least force of all creatures, yet groweth it to that violence, and gathereth such strength, as it 'rattles together the great ships of Tarshish,' as it pulls up trees blows down huge piles of building, has most strange and wonderful effects, which our eyes have often seen; and all this but, a little thin air.
And sure no less observable, or admirable, no much more have been and are the operations of the Spirit. Even presently after this, this Spirit, in a few poor weak and simple instruments, God knows, waxed so full and forcible, as it 'cast down strong holds, brought into captivity many an exalting thought,' made 'a conquest of the whole world,' [118/119] even then when it was bent fully in main opposition against it, as it has set all men in a maze to consider, how so poor a beginning should grow to such might, that wisdom and learning, and might and majesty, and all have stooped unto it; and all was but God's little 'finger,' all the 'breath of His mouth.' Verily the wind was never so vehement, as the Spirit has been and is in His proceeding.
These two are common with the wind; and for these two it might have been no more, but even a common wind. The other two are not so, but shew it to be more than a wind: 3. The coming from Heaven, 4. the filling but of that one place. In these two it is dislike, as in the former two like, ordinary wind that bloweth.
It 'came from heaven.' Winds, naturally, come not from thence, but out of the caves and holes of the earth; they blow not downward, but move laterally from one coast or climate to another. To come directly down, not only de sursum, 'from above,' (so it may be from the middle region of the air) but de caelo, 'from Heaven' itself; that is supernatural sure, that is 'a wind out of God's own treasury indeed,' that points us plainly to Him that is ascended up into Heaven, and now sends it down from thence.
And therefore sendeth it 'from Heaven,' that it may fill us with the breath of heaven. For as the wind is, so are the blasts, so is the breath of it; and as is the Spirit, so are the motions It useth, so are the reasons It is carried by.
To distinguish this wind from others, is no hard matter. If our motions come from above, if we fetch our grounds there, de cælo, 'from Heaven,' from religion, from the sanctuary, it is this wind; but those that come from earthly respects, we know their cave, and that there is nothing but natural in them. This wind came thence to make us heavenly minded, to 'set our affections on things heavenly,' and to frame the rules of 'our conversation agreeable unto heaven.' So we shall know what wind blows, whether it be de cælo or de hominibus, whether it be defluxus cæli, or exhalatio terræ; 'from heaven or of men,'--a breath from heaven, or a terrene exhalation.
And like to this is the fourth: 'It filled that place where they sat,' 'That place where they;' 'that place,' not the places [119/120] about. That place it filled, the other felt it not. And this is another plain dissimile, to blow but in one place, and shows it to be more than ordinary. The common wind, all places within his circuit, it airs all alike, one as well as another, indifferently. This here seems to blow elective, as if there were sense in it, or it blew by discretion. For it blew upon none of the neighbour houses, none of the places adjacent, where these men were not. That, and only that room it filled, where they were sitting.
And this, of blowing upon one certain place, is a property very well fitting the Spirit: Ubi vult spirat. To blow in certain places where Itself will, and upon certain persons, and they will plainly feel It, and others about them not a whit. There will be an hundred or more in an auditory: one sound is heard, one breath does blow. At that instant, one or two and no more; one here, another there; they will feel the Spirit, will be affected and touched with It sensibly; twenty on this side them, and forty on that, will not feel It, but sit all becalmed, and go their way no more moved than they came. Ubi vult spirat, is most true.
And that ubi is not anywhere, but where these men sat; that is, it is a peculiar wind, and appropriate to that place where the Apostles are, that is the Church. Elsewhere to seek it, is folly. The place it bloweth in, is Sion; and in Sion, where men be so disposed as we shewed ere-while, that is, where there is concord and unity, the dew of Sion, ibi mandavit Dominus benedictionem; there God sendeth this wind, and 'there He sendeth His blessing' with the wind, which never leaves us till it brings us to life for evermore, to eternal life. So doth Solomon describe the nature of the wind; that it goeth forth, and that it 'compasseth round about,' and then last that it returneth per circuitus suos. So doth this: it cometh comes from heaven, and it bloweth into the Church, and through and through it, to fill it with the breath of heaven; and as it came from heaven to the Church, so it will return from the Church into heaven again, per circuitus suos; and whose sails it hath filled with that wind, it will carry with it along per circuitus suos; even 'to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living,' there to live with Him and His Holy Spirit for ever.
[120/121]So we have, briefly, the four properties of this wind, and of the Spirit Whose type it is: 1. That it is 'sudden' in the first coming; 2. That it is 'mighty' in the proceeding; 3. That it cometh 'from Heaven;' 4. That it cometh into the Church; to fill it with the spirit of Heaven, and to carry it thither whence itself cometh. Thus much for the second, the first type.
This wind brought down with its tongues, even imbrem linguarum, 'a whole shower of them,' which is the next point of the show which appeared. By which appearing it appeareth plainly, that the wind came not for themselves only, but for others too beside; in that here is not only a wind which serveth for their own inspiration, but there be also sent tongues with it, which serve for elocution, that is, to impart the benefit to more than themselves.
It sheweth that the Holy Spirit comes and is given here, rather as gratia gratis data, to do others good; than as gratia gratum faciens, to benefit themselves. Charitas diffusa in corde would serve them, charity poured into their hearts; but gratia diffusa in labiis,, 'grace poured into their lips,' that is not needful for themselves, but needful to make others beside them partakers of the benefit. The wind alone, that is to breathe with, the grace of the Holy Spirit whereby ourselves live; but the wind and tongues, that is to speak with, the grace of the Holy Spirit whereby we make others live, and partake of the same knowledge to life. A union of the wind and tongue here on earth, expressing the unity of the Spirit and Word in heaven; that as the wind or breath in us is to serve the tongue, so is the Spirit given to set forth the Word, and the Holy Spirit to spread abroad the knowledge of Christ.
Where it is not unworthy your observing neither, that as, in the natural body, one and the same breath of ours is organon both vitæ and vocis, 'is the instrument both of life and voice,' the same that we live by, is the same that we speak by; even the very like is in the body mystical, and both the vital breath and the vocal come both, as we here see, from the Holy Ghost.
This also standeth of four parts, as did the former. For there appeared, 1. 'tongues,' 2. 'cloven,' 3. 'as it were of fire,' 4. 'sitting upon each of them.'
[121/122] The tongue is the substantive and subject of all the rest. It is so; and God can send from Heaven no better thing, or from the devil from hell no worse thing than it. 'The best member we have,' saith the Prophet; the worst member we have, saith the Apostle;--both, as it is employed.
'The best,' if it be of God's cleaving; if it be of His lightening with the fire of heaven; if it be one that will sit still, if cause be. The worst, if it comes from the devil's hands. For he, as in many other, so in the sending of tongues, strives to be like God; as knowing well they are every way as fit instruments to work mischief by, as to do good with. There be 'tongues of Angels' in 1Cor, 13.1: and if of good Angels, I make no doubt but of evil; and so, the devil hath his tongues.
And he hath the art of cleaving. He shewed it in the beginning, when he made the serpent, 'a forked tongue,' to speak that which was contrary to his knowledge and meaning--they should not die; and as he did the serpent's, so he can do others.
There is fire in hell, as well as in Heaven; that we all know.
Only in this they agree not, but are unlike: his tongues cannot sit still, but fly up and down all over the world, and spare neither Minister nor Magistrate, no nor God Himself.
But if we shall say to our tongue, as David did to his, 'Awake up my glory,' that is, make it the glory of all the rest of our members, it can have no greater glory than this, to the organ of the Holy Spirit, to set forth and sound abroad the knowledge of Christ, to the glory of God the Father. And so used, it is heavenly, no time so heavenly as then; in no service so heavenly as then; in no service so heavenly as in that.
Not to enlarge this point further, there is no new matter in it. This here, of the 'tongues,' is as that before the 'sound:' both are to no other end but to admonish them of their office, whereto they here received ordination; even to be tongues, to be trumpets of the counsel of God, and of His love to mankind, in sending His Son to save them.
Here is wind to serve for breath, and here are tongues now, and what should let them to do it? That which before they received in charge audibly, Ite, prædicate, the very [122/123] same they here received visibly in this apparition, which is after expounded thus: Coeperunt loqui, by virtue of these tongues 'they began to speak.'
'Tongues' and 'cloven tongues.' And that very cleaving of right necessary use to the business intended. For that of theirs was but one whole entire tongue that could speak but one poor language, the Syriac, they were bred in. There was not a cleft in it. So could they speak their mind to none but Syrians; and by that means should the Gospel have been shut up in one corner of the world.
TÕ koiuwuikÕv is the goodness of all that is good; even the imparting it to the good of the common. To the end then this great good of the knowledge of the Gospel might be dispersed to many nations, even to every nation under heaven--to that end clove He their tongues; to make many tongues in one tongue, to make one man to be able to speak to many men of many countries, to every one in his own language. If there must be a calling of the Gentiles, they must have the tongues of the Gentiles wherewith to call them. If they were 'debtors,' not only 'to the Jews, but to the Grecians;' nay, not only 'to the Grecians but to the Barbarians too;' then must they have tongues not only of the Jews, but of the Grecians and of the Barbarians too, to pay this debt, to discharge the duty of Ite, praedicate, to all.
And this was a special favour from God, for all the propagation of His Gospel far and wide, this division of tongues, and it is by the ancient writers all reckoned a plain reversing of the curse of Babel, by this blessing of Sion, since they account it all one and so it is, either as at the first for all men to speak one language, or as here one man speak for all. That is here recovered, that there was lost; and they enabled for the building up of Sion in every nation, to speak so as all might understand them of every nation.
But this withall we are to take with us; that with their many tongues they spake one thing, and that univoce. 'With one mouth,' 'with one voice.'
With divers tongues to utter one and the same sense, that is God's cloven tongue; that is the division of Sion, serving to edification.
[123/124] With one tongue, æquivoce, to utter divers senses, divers meanings; that is none of God's, it is the serpent's forked tongue, the very division of Babel, and rendeth to nothing but confusion.
'Tongues cloven,' and, 'as they had been of fire.' 'As they had been;' to keep a difference in these as before in the wind, and to shew that they were not of our elementary fire. For it is added, 'sat upon them;' which they could not have done without some hurt, without scorching them at least, if it had been such fire as it is in our chimneys. But it was æs_e, 'as it were' ours; that is, in show, earthly, in deed celestial. And as the wind, so the fire from heaven; of the nature of that, in the third of Exodus, which made 'the bush burn, and yet consumed it not.'
Where, first, we are to observe again the conjunction of the tongue and fire. The seat of the tongue is in the head, and 'the Head of the Church' is Christ. The native place of heat, the quality in us answering to this fire, is the heart, and the Heart of the Church is the Holy Spirit. These two join to this work, Christ to give the tongue, the Holy Spirit to put fire into it. For as in the body natural, the next, the immediate instrument of the soul is heat, whereby it worketh all the members over, even so in the mystical body, a vigour there is like that of heat which we are willed to cherish, to be 'fervent in the Spirit,' to stir and to blow it up; which is it that giveth efficacy to all spiritual operations.
To express this quality, it appears in the likeness of this element; even to show there should be an efficacy or vigour in their doctrine resembling it; quod igneus est illis vigor, that the force of fire should show forth itself in their words; both in the splendour which is the light of knowledge to clear the mist of their darkened understanding, and in the fervour which is the force of spiritual efficacy, to quicken the dullness of their cold and dead affections.
And indeed the world was then so overwhelmed with ignorance and error, and so overgrown with dross and other bad matter, by paganism, it long had been that their lips did need to be touched with 'a coal from the altar.' Tongues of flesh would not serve the turn, nor words of air, but there must be fire put into the tongue, and spirit and life into the [124/125] words they spake, a force more natural, that is, the force of the Spirit; even to speak sparks of fire instead of words, to drive away the darkness, and to refine the dross of their heathenish conversation so long continued.
Our Saviour Christ saw this and said, Every sacrifice then had need to be seasoned with fire, but there was no fire to do it with. Therefore He addeth in another place, 'I came to send fire upon earth,' and this day He was as good as His word, and sent it.
And with such a tongue spake He himself when they said of Him, 'Did not our hearts burn within us, while He spake unto us by the way?' With such a tongue St. Peter here, in this chapter; for sure there fell from him something like fire on their hearts, when they were pricked with and cried, 'Men and brethren, what shall we do?'
And even to this day, in them who move the dead and dull hearts of their hearers, and make them to have a lively apprehension of things pertaining to God, there is a remainder of that which this day was sent; and they show plainly, that yet this fire is not clean gone out.
But this is not always, nor in all, with us--no more was it with them; but in those of their hearer which had some of 'the anointing,' and that will easily take the fire, in them good will be done; or at least, where there was some 'smoking flax,' some remainder of the Spirit, which without any great ado will be kindled anew. Them it doth good--the rest it did not. This for the fire.
These 'sat upon each of them.' In which sitting is set down unto us their last quality, of continuance and constancy. The virtue is prosedreÚeiu, fiery tongues 'sitting;' the vice opposite epipol£xeiu, fiery tongues 'flitting.' They did not light and touch, and away, after the manner of butterflies, but both they sat themselves, in the former verse, [and] 'the tongues sat on them,' that is, they abode still, and continued staid and steady, without stirring or starting aside, saith, the psalmist, 'like a swerving bow.'
Of our Saviour Christ Himself, how to know Him, God Himself gave St. John Baptist a privy sign, and it was this. 'On whomsoever you see the Spirit lighting, and abiding on Him,' that is He. Lighting is not it, though it be the [125/126] Holy Ghost; but lighting and abiding, that is the true sign.
The same [of] our Saviour is this day said, that 'ascending on high, He gave gifts unto men;' and to what end? 'that the Lord their God might dwell among them.' Mark that 'dwell;' not, might stay and lodge for a night, as in an inn or hostelry, and then be gone in the morning, but 'dwell,' that is, have His habitation, take up His residence among them.
The God, or that Person of the Deity, he there saith shall 'dwell,' is the Holy Ghost; one of whose chief attributes in the Psalm is that He is wwbn tw° 'a constant Spirit'--and if Sanctus comes of sancio, there is as much said in the Latin word as in the Hebrew 'constant,' not desultory; and His fire not like the foolish meteor, now in, now out, but permanent still, like 'the fire on the altar.'
So in vigour, as His vigour is not brunts only or starts, impetus, but habitus, that it holdeth out habit-wise. Not only like the sparks before which will make a man stir for the present, but leaving an impression, such as one as iron red-hot leaves in vessels of wood; a fire-mark never to be got out more. Such doth the Holy Ghost leave in the memories: In æternum non obliviscar, 'I shall never forget it.'
And such did it leave in the hearts of the first Christians, that could never be got out of their hearts by their persecutors, till they plucked out hearts and all.
With this salt, as well as with that fire, saith Christ, must every sacrifice be seasoned; not only with that fire to stir it up, but with this salt to preserve it. By this virtue, in the former verse, they were disposed to the Spirit; and now here, you see, again by the Spirit they are disposed to this virtue; and not only disposed to it, but rooted, and more and more confirmed in it; that we may learn to esteem of it accordingly.
And thus have we, as before heard what the sound, so now seen what the sight can shew us, even all four: 1. 'Tongues,' that they might preach; 2. 'Cloven,' that they might preach to many; 3. 'Fire,' that they might do it effectually; 4. And 'Sitting,' that so effectually as not flittingly, but that it might be an efficacy, constant, abiding, and staying still with them; so forcible, that continual.
[126/127] Now are we to know what all this amounts to, what is the signatum or 'thing signified' of both these signs; what was wrought in them by inward concurrence with this outward resemblance. And that followeth in the fourth verse, wherein there is a commentary of this wind, and a gloss of these tongues. Of the wind in the forepart: 'They were all filled with Holy Ghost.' Of the tongues in the latter: 'they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.'
But the time being already spent, I will not so far presume as to enter into it, it would ask too long a treaty.
It remaineth now that first we offer up our due praise and unfeigned hearty thanks, giving Him that is ascended up on high for sending this day this blessing upon that His Church, the mother of us all. The fruit whereof, even of this wind, and of these tongues, in the effect of them both, the blowing of the one, and the speaking of the other, we all feel to this day so far as Christendom is wide. It is the duty of the day.
First then this; and then withal secondly, to endeavour that we may have this day some feeling of this day's benefit ourselves, and some way find ourselves visited with the same Spirit.
I told you, after this first there is no more visible coming to be looked for, but that after His accustomed usual manner invisibly He ceaseth not to come still, nor will not to the world's end.
Even in this book, after this time here three several times, in the fourth, tenth, and nineteenth chapters; and at three several places, Jerusalem, Cæsarea, Ephesus, the same Spirit came upon the faithful people, and yet nothing heard nor seen; only discerned after, by the impression it left behind it. And this coming is still usual with Him, and this we may hope for; hope for and have, if we labour and dispose ourselves for it.
And we may direct ourselves how to do this, by those three places I even now alleged. 1. In the fourth chapter, the thirty-first verse; 'As they prayed,' the Spirit came upon them. 2. In the tenth, verse the forty-fourth. 'While Peter yet spake, the Spirit fell upon them.' 3. In the nineteenth chapter, verse the sixth. As they received the Sacrament, the Spirit was sent on them. In which three are [127/128] plainly set down to us, these three means to procure the Spirit's coming: 1. Prayer, 2. the Word, 3.the Sacrament.
I know well it was the Sacrament of Baptism in the place last alleged; but that is all one. In one verse doth the Apostle name them both, as of equal power, both for the purpose: Uno Spiritu Baptizati estis; and before he ends the verse, et uno Spiritu poti. 'Baptized in the Spirit'--that is this of ours here. For ex similibus sumus et alimur. Ours here, I say, where we do 'drink of the Spirit,' if aright we receive it; in which respect he calleth it 'the spiritual drink,' because we do even drink the Spirit with it.
And even in this very chapter, before the end, it is noted by St. Luke, as a special means whereby they invited the Spirit to them again and again, 'their continuing in the Temple with once accord, and breaking of bread.' Of thereto; and this Sacrament of 'breaking of bread' is the Sacrament of 'accord,' as that which representeth unto us perfect unity in the many grains kneaded into 'one loaf,' and the many grapes pressed into one cup; and what it representeth lively, it worketh as effectually.
Howsoever it be, if these three, 1. Prayer, 2. the Word, 3. the Sacraments, be every one of them as an artery to convey the Spirit into us, well may we hope, if we use them all three, we shall be in a good way to speed of our desires. For many times we miss, when we use this one or that alone; where, it may well be God has appointed to give it us by neither, but by the third. It is not for us to limit or appoint Him, how, or by what way, He will come unto us and visit us, but to offer up our obedience in using them all; and, using them all, He will not fail but come unto us, either as a wind to allay in us some unnatural heat of some distempered desire in us to evil, or as a fire to kindle in us some luke-warm, or some key-cold affection in us to good. Come unto us, either as the Spirit of truth, lightening us with some new knowledge; or, as the Spirit of holiness, reviving in us some virtue or grace; or as the Comforter, manifesting to us some inward contentment, or joy in the Holy Spirit; or, in one or other certainly He will [128/129] come. For a complete obedience on our part in the use of all His prescribed means never did go away empty from Him, or without a blessing; never did, nor never shall.
Never; but not on this day, of all days; the day, wherein dona dedit hominbus, 'He gave gifts unto men.' It is dies donorum, His giving day, His day of donatives. Some gift He will give, either from the wind, inward, or from the tongue, outward, some gift He will give.
There be nine of them set down, nine 'manifestations of the Spirit'--some of them nine. There be nine more set down, nine 'fruits of the Spirit'--some of them nine, some gift He will give.
Only let us dispose ourselves by the use, not of this one or that one, or two, but of all the means, to receive it by. Inwardly, by unity and patient waiting His leisure, as these here; outwardly, by frequenting those holy duties and offices, all of which, we see, succeeded with those there in three place remembered.
And in these, the blessed Spirit so dispose us, and in them so bless us, as we may not only by outward celebration, but by inward participation, feel and find in ourselves, that we have kept to Him, this day, a true feast of the coming of His Spirit, of the sending down the Holy Ghost! Which Almighty God grant, &c.