REFLECTIONS ON ACTS 2

Joseph Sutcliffe (1762-1856) was converted in early life and was appointed by Wesley to Redruth in 1786. He introduced Methodism into the Scilly Isles in 1788. His life was one of "unspotted Christian purity and progressive excellence. In Biblical scholarship he especially excelled" (John McClintock and James Strong). His two-volume commentary is not well known, but it represents the early Methodist interpretation and emphasis. Here, then, is Sutcliffe's reflections on Acts 2:

From this great display of glory we may learn that conversion is always a work of argument; their judgment was gained by truth. Conversion is also a work of conviction; they were pricked in the heart. Conversion is likewise a work of enquiry; men and brethren, what must we do to exonerate our conscience from so great a guilt? Lastly, conversion is a work of comfort; ye shall receive remission of sins, and the gift of the Holy Ghost. But the gift of the Holy Spirit, absolutely essential to regeneration, is twofold in its operations. First, ordinary, to warm and cheer the heart of every believer. So we have remarked on Luke 24. Next, it is extraordinary, in the gift of tongues, and the power of working miracles. The latter is confined solely to as many as the Lord shall call to that high office and ministry.

Thus after Christ had laid the foundation of his church, we see the master builders start this day under the highest smiles of heaven; and the success of their ministry, connected with the happy temper of the first converts, was a most encouraging specimen to all future preachers, and the fairest image of heaven which mortals ever saw.

A second class of reflections turn on the purity, the love, and the glory of the church of the firstborn. They were in general devout men before their conversion to the Lord, but now the sun of righteousness having burst upon them all at once, made them doubly so. Being now suddenly ushered into the glory and grace of the Messiah's kingdom, their joys were without bounds; their love was kindles from the heavenly altar; they sung the prophet's songs with new light, and new hearts. Nay, they composed new hymns on the deity and humanity of Christ, hymns that are often referred to with approbation by the fathers.

The love of the primitive christians led to obedience; they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine, in prayer, in fellowship, and in breaking of bread. Devotion is the glory of man, and the communion of saints is the most hallowed of all social enjoyments.

They were a happy and prosperous church, serving the Lord with gladness and singleness of heart. Heaven inspired the soul, and hymns were sung in every house. The handful of corn grew on the tops of the mountains of Judea; and they of the city flourished like grass of the earth (Psalm 72:16). A glorious church, the model of every future age [A Commentary on the Old and New Testament (London: Holdsworth and Ball, 1834), 2:392-3].


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