WHITSUN

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 judgement in all things; and evermore to rejoice in his holy comfort; through the merits of Christ Jesus thy Son our Lord, who liveth and reigneth
with thee, in the unity of the same Holy Spirit, ever one God, world without end. Amen.

A reading from the sermons of Lancelot Andrewes

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 Ghost. One of ‘the great and wonderful benefits of God’ (Acts 2:11); 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 thoroughly, 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 (Gal 4:4); and then after ‘God sent the Spirit of his Son’ in another (Gal 4:6).

Or we may hold our continuation still, and make this the last of Christ’s benefits; for ‘he went up on high’ is not the last, there is still one remaining, which is, ‘he gave gifts to me’ (Ps 68:18). 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 o 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 Ghost is the seal or signature, ‘in whom you were sealed’ (Eph 4:30). A testament we have and therein many fair legacies, but till this day nothing administered – ‘The administrations are the Spirit’s’ (1 Cor 12:5). In all these of Christ’s there is but the purchase made and paid for, and as they say, ‘the right to the thing’ acquired; but ‘the right in the thing’, ‘a sending into possession’, livery and seizing, that is reserved till this day; for the Spirit is the ‘earnest’ (2 Cor 5:5) 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, ‘to us a son is given’ (Is 9:6); 2. or that of the Apostle, ‘The Spirit has been given to us’ (Rom 5:5); the ascending of our flesh, or the descending of his Spirit; 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 Tim 3:16). 1. In the former, by the union of his Son; 2. In the latter, by the communion of his Blessed Spirit.

But we will 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 ‘partake his divine nature’ (2 Pet 1:4), both are this day accomplished. That the text well beginneth ‘when the days were fulfilled’ (Acts 2:1), for it is our complement indeed; and not only ours but the very Gospel’s too. It is Tertullian: ‘the coming of Christ was the fulfilling of the Law, the coming of the Holy Ghost is the fulfilling of the Gospel’.

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