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AND IT SHALL CoME to PAss, IN THE LAST DAYs, sa ITH God, I WILL POUR OUT OF MY SPIRIT UPON ALL FLESh.
The great and glorious promise, here specified, is a part of the Prophecy of Joel : and though particularly applied by the Apostle Peter, in its primary fulfilment on the day of Pentecost, to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost which were then communicated; yet we cannot hesitate to receive it as a general promise, which regards the propagation of the Gospel throughout the whole world, by the ordinary operations of the same Spirit on the hearts and energies of the servants of God, in every succeeding age. Like many other prophecies of similar import, it stands as an encouragement to patient faith, and lively hope, and persevering prayer.
Indeed, if such portions of the Prophetic Word were to be limited to the Pentecostal Period, of how much consolation would the Church of God be deprived ' What glorious expectation, what joy and peace in believing, would be snatched from her, if she might not, as she journeys through the
wilderness, look on such prophecies as referring to the coming of the Lord her righteousness, for whose approaching kingdom and glory she longs and waits, as those who watch for the morning. It is true, the Apostle declares, in his address to the people—This is that which was spoken by the Prophet Joel; but, while he declares, afterward, the promise is unto you and to your children, he adds, and to all that are afar off, even to as many as the Lord our God shall call. We cannot but conclude, therefore, that it is a prophecy, the gracious fulfilment of which will be co-extensive with the whole Christian Dispensation —a prophecy, which only BEGAN to be fulfilled at the Day of Pentecost; and which shall not be ENTIRELY fulfilled, till the last days shall INDEED come, when the knowledge of the Lord shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea. Considered in this light, the text brings before us, most distinctly, a great and all-important subject— a subject, which, however appropriate to all occasions of this nature, could never have been presented under any circumstances of the Christian Church, more strikingly illustrative of its importance than those under which we now live: and, I may add, that it is one which seems the rather to commend itself to our attention, inasmuch as, at the last Anniversary, our minds were led to the awful contemplation of the baneful influence of ANoth ER Spirit—the God and Prince of this world—the Spirit which worketh in the children of disobedience, leading them captive at his will. It will console us, while it will humble us, to cherish the conviction, that it is the Spirit of the Lord alone, that can raise
wp a standard against the enemy; and that it is to that mighty and holy influence, that we must look, in the use of suitable means, “to beat down Satan under our feet.”
I propose, therefore, to offer to your consideration —first, Our NEED of THE DIvi NE INFLUENCE, promised in the Text, for the successful prosecution of Missionary Labours; and, secondly, the EN couRAGEMENT afforded in the work, by the expectation of the plenary and ultimate accomplishment of the prophecy. And may HE, the Spirit of Truth, whose gracious presence is promised to the assemblies of His people, now “come among us, and with great might succour us;” that the attempt, about to be made in His Name, may be accompanied with His blessing, and redound to His glory !
I. We are to consider our NEED OF THE DIVINE INFLUENCE, promised in the Text, for the successful prosecution of our Missionary Labours. This we shall best perceive, by a reference to the natural state and condition of every individual. What, then, is that state?—Dead, the Apostle says, in trespasses and sins. How, then, shall he “turn, and prepare himself, to faith, and calling upon God?” It is the Spirit that quickeneth: he must be born again. He has a carnal heart, and that is enmity against God. How, then, shall he draw near unto God?—only under the influence of that Spirit, whose office it is to renew and sanctify, and to make him spiritually minded. He has a dark understanding, a perverse will, unruly affections;