God, let thy word bring our souls to conversion. Amen.
Acts 2, 37-42. Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ, for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
“They were pricked in their heart.” This is as it should be. If the word of God do not penetrate the heart, we have heard it in vain. What, then, did they feel? They felt their sin, and feared the wrath of God. This, also, is as it should be. He who does not feel his sin with “godly sorrow” does not have the true faith. — Many hear the story of the death of Jesus with hearts as unmoved, as though it did not in the least concern them. It is not until we feel in our soul the sharp sting of the declaration, “thou art the man,” that the question, “what shall I do?” becomes one of vital interest to us, and that the ear is open to hear the word concerning remission of sins. The inevitable truth is, that he only who repents of his sin can believe the gospel. Man does not hearken to the message of mercy without having given heed to the voice exhorting him to do penance. Proclaim to the world that God is merciful; shout the message into the ears of men; preach it with the fiery eloquence of Peter, or with the impressive and loving voice of John, the “son of thunder;” give instruction with the clearness and power of the Spirit in regard to the value of Christ’s grace, which brings salvation; and summon men to him in the heavenly and gentle words of the gospel, which seem almost irresistible; — it is all in vain; they do not hear, and will not come, although they may seem to hear, and to come nearer for a moment; they break away, and are lost, if they do not learn to know and repent of their sins. — You, on the other hand, who see that you deserve the wrath of God, and who now anxiously seek salvation; come, one and all, receive in the name of Jesus full forgiveness, and be comfortedI You are baptized into Christ, and the promise is yours. It is the Holy Ghost who bends your heart in contrition on account of your sins; and he does it, in order that he may give you healing by means of the grace which Jesus has earned. Save yourself from this unbelieving generation! The Lord your God calls you; do not stand apart, but come here, and be a member of his church, and live with his people. When you sincerely repent of your sins, because they have offended your God; when it is your earnest purpose to avoid sin, and to live according to the word and commandments of God; when you are able to hear that the gospel is a good message, which you would gladly accept; then your conversion is genuine, and then you already have that which you desire; for the Lord your God has forgiven you all your trespasses. Believe what Jesus has done, and accept what he has given, and continue instant in the teaching of the apostles unto the end. Do not seek a sign; but believe the word.
Thus we are one with the apostolic church, and have all things in common with it; we sit at the same communion table, break the same bread, and pray the same prayers to the same heavenly Father. Praise God! Amen.
One, the light of God’s own presence,
O’er his ransomed people shed.
Chasing far the gloom and terror,
Brightening all the path we tread.
One, the object of our journey,
One, the faith which never tires,
One, the earnest looking forward,
One, the hope our God inspires.