Locust Street Letters
By Frank Lawrence Vernon
Philadelphia: St. Mark's Church, Locust Street.
ST. MARK'S, PHILADELPHIA.
MY DEAR PEOPLE:
“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.”
Eleven days after Our Lord’s Ascension into Heaven to present Himself as our High Priest offering His sacrifice for us, the Holy Ghost came down as Our Lord had promised.
The Fifth Article of Religion states, “The Holy Ghost proceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal God.”
In the Nicene Creed we say, “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, and Giver of Life, Who proceedeth from the Father and the Son; Who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who spake by the Prophets.”
In the Collect for the Day, we pray, “O God, Who as at this time didst teach the hearts of thy faithful people, by sending to them the light of thy Holy Spirit; Grant us by the same spirit to have a right judgment in all things, and evermore to rejoice in His holy comfort.”
In the Preface for Whitsunday, and six days after, we give thanks “through Jesus Christ Our Lord, according to whose most true promise, the Holy Ghost came down as at this time from heaven, lighting upon the disciples, to teach them, and to lead them into all truth; giving them boldness with fervent zeal constantly to preach the Gospel unto all nations; whereby we have been brought out of darkness and error into the clear light and true knowledge of thee, and of thy Son Jesus Christ.”
When the Bishop, a successor of the Apostles, laid his hands upon our heads in Confirmation, he prayed, “Defend, O Lord, this thy child with thy heavenly grace; that he may continue thine for ever; and daily increase in thy Holy Spirit more and more, until he come unto thy everlasting Kingdom.” Here you have the links of the chain which bind you in your parish church today with the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. The Sacrament of Confirmation is the means whereby the faithful people receive the Holy Ghost by the Laying on of Hands by the Successors of the Apostles.
Saint Paul wrote, “Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price: Therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit which are God’s.”
Personal devotion to the Holy Ghost, habitual prayer to the Holy Ghost, conscious reliance upon the fellowship of the Holy. Ghost; these are the elements of Pentecostal devotion. It must be very personal. The Holy Ghost cleanses the thoughts of our hearts by His inspiration. The Holy Ghost gives us all holy desires, and all good counsels. The Holy Ghost gives us the directions of right judgment and the joy of holy comfort.
All this is, as you observe, taken from the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer. If we add the Collects which direct us to the Holy Ghost, and finally the prayer for a parish in the Office of Institution, we shall see that the Prayer Book is saturated with devotion to the Holy Ghost, and we shall see how large a place this devotion should have in our private prayers. One thing is certain. It is Our Lord’s will that it should be so. “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever: even the Spirit of truth.”
Affectionately in Our Lord,