233. Whitsunday. I.
“Come, Holy Ghost, our God and Lord, To us thy gracious gifts impart; And kindle, by thy sacred word. The fire of love within our heart.” Amen.
Gospel Lesson, John 14, 23-31. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto my Father: for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
God loved us first, and gave his Son for us. Love is of God; it is not of us, but of God. By faith, however, we receive it into our heart, and love him in return. God is love; and when we believe in him we build our faith on love itself. God has given us his love in Christ, and the Spirit gives us power to believe; and thus we are enabled to love God and keep his word. It is by reason of the coming of Christ, and his ascension, and the pouring out of the Spirit, that we, who had lost this love, can again come into possession of it and have true love in our heart. Each one of us, who are baptized unto Christ, has received his love into the heart. But we may either keep it, or reject it. The Spirit gives us grace to believe, but we also have power to resist him; and hence we Christians may then choose, whether or no we wish to have this love in the heart. Jesus says in our text: “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” The fruit of love is hearty obedience. He that does not keep the words of Jesus must not think that he loves Jesus. But if any man love me, says Jesus, and keep my words, “my Father will love him that is, he will delight and be ‘well pleased in him. For in his love God is good to all, but fond of his children; he is kindly disposed towards all, but in them that are good he is also well pleased. The Father loves you, if you love Jesus; you then are his joy and delight; you please him, and he rejoices in seeing you. Nor is this all. The Father and the Son will come unto you, and make their abode with you. When God has poured out his love in your heart by the Holy Spirit, he is in you, and nothing can separate you from him. Even two human beings who love each other may be said to live each in the heart of the other; and the two hearts are inseparably united. Let a whole world be between these two persons, and they yet are close together; for they live in each other. But in a fuller and deeper sense the triune God is with and in his children on earth. “For God is love.” He who gave himself the name of Father in our hearts by sending us his Son; he who gave his life to save us, our most precious Lord Jesus; and he who placed us in the Savior’s arms, the faithful Holy Ghost; — all three persons, the holy triune God, make the heart of the believer their temple, and fill it with their life. We must not suppose that God is inclosed in our heart; — the heaven and heaven of heavens can not contain him; — neither must we think that a part of God dwells in me and a part in others. In a manner which can not be expressed, by a miracle of the Spirit, by the power of his infinite love, he has made his abode with me and with all his children; and each one of us possesses his entire love, as though God loved him only of all the world. Even the love which God has given in our hearts, humble creatures and poor sinners as we are, is a great and wonderful thing. A Father loves each of his children as fondly, as though it were his only child. None of them owns a part only, but his whole heart. Praise be to God, who loves us with all his love, and has given it to us entire, and who thus lives in us, and we in him! Glorious Pentecost gift, which fills our souls with life, with peace and joy and hope, and is mighty to comfort us in all our distress and sorrow!
Come, precious Holy Spirit, give light in our hearts, and teach us to know the Father and the Son. Take us, and place us in the arms of God, that we may accept his love, and live in it forever. “Come, Holy Spirit, power divine, And fill this hungry heart of mine. Thou seest how in tears I stand And ask a blessing of thy hand. In every need my comfort be; Refresh my soul, and strengthen me.” Amen.
Come, God Creator, Holy Ghost,
And visit thou these souls of men;
Fill them with graces, as thou dost
Thy creatures make pure again.
For comforter thy name we call.
Sweet gift of God most high above,
A holy unction to us all,
O fount of life, fire of love.
234. Whitsunday. II.
O God, Holy Spirit, give us thy celestial fire in our heart and on our tongue. Amen.
Acts 2, 1-11. 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. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed, and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia. in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
The confusion of tongues at Babel, with the division into different languages, is typical of the rending asunder of the human race by reason of sin. It had been the will of God that the human family should be widely distributed upon the earth; and it had also been his will that they should form different nations, each with its distinctive features. As no two individuals are exactly alike, so every nationality is in some things different from all others; and these manifold differences between individuals and peoples would have existed, even if we had not sinned. But all would then have been linked together in peace and love; there would have been a perfect understanding and sympa thy between all, and they would have dwelt together in a spirit of perfect unity. Now the bond has been broken. Men are become strangers, neither knowing nor understanding one another. Their minds go each its own way, and do not meet in harmony of thought and purpose. The nations are enemies, and destroy one another. Love is dead and gone; the image of God is lost. Man has risen in revolt against God; “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth,” and so there is an end of the bond of unity and love.
Pentecost, however, is the reverse and the destruction of Babel. The tongues of fire from heaven are the living language which the Spirit teaches the saints, and which expresses the new life in their hearts; and this life is the life in the fellowship of love, fellowship with God in Christ, mutual fellowship with one another. When the Holy Ghost cleanses our hearts, he robs none of us of the individuality which God has given to each; but he sanctifies it, brings us into harmony with one another, and unites us as one in God. As many of us as are united with Christ are united with one another, and have all things in common; that is, each employs the talent entrusted to him for the edification of the whole church. — The differences of language shall never be abolished; but all shall be purified and transfigured into a higher unity. This glorious work has not yet been consummated; but the Spirit of God is prosecuting it unceasingly. The difficulties of language are being overcome, and the gospel is being preached throughout all the earth. All peoples shall hear the word of life in their own tongue, and all languages shall be filled with the everlasting truth. This was foretold in the miracle of Pentecost day, when men of all nations heard the apostles speak to them in their own tongue. When the church shall have been made perfect the saved of all the different nations shall together be one blessed and holy family; and all tongues shall unite in one grand harmony in the celestial language of love, in which the church shall sing the song of God and the Lamb.
Holy Spirit, gather our hearts to Christ, and gather all peoples. that there may be one fold, and one shepherd. Amen.
Holy Spirit! hear us
On this sacred day;
Come to us with blessing,
Come with us to stay.
Come, as once thou earnest
To the faithful few
Jesus’ promise true.