Part of my seminary training involved reading Hamilton’s History of Presbyterianism in Ireland. In that book Hamilton recalls the details of the Ulster Plantation and the arrival of many godly ministers from Scotland. Many of those godly men were fleeing from persecution, but in the providence of God what was Scotland’s loss was Ireland’s gain. Among that illustrious band was Rev. James Glendinning, who ministered in Carrickfergus and in Antrim. His ministry was different in that he preached nothing but “law and wrath and the terrors of God for sin.” It was what was needed in that area and many felt deep pangs of conviction.
It is recorded that the people “fell into such anxiety and terror of conscience that they looked upon themselves as altogether lost and damned.” Although Glendinning had preached the law with power, he seemed unable to present the answer effectively. However, other ministers came to help and brought the great news of the gospel. As a result multitudes were converted. One observer described that move of God as a “bright and hot sun-blink of the gospel.”
That is what Acts 2:41 is all about, but on this occasion Peter not only preached about sin, he also preached the remedy for sin and souls were regenerated. Clearly, the convicting work of the Spirit was followed by the converting work of the Spirit. The opening of hearts and the ready and glad reception of the gospel was all of God. This was the evident working of the Spirit in hearts. Mysteriously but powerfully souls were turned from darkness to light and from spiritual death to life. The apostles were the preachers but the power—and therefore the glory—belonged to God. In cold, hard, dead sinners and in cold, hard, indifferent saints we need the hot sunshine of the gospel and the glad reception of the Word.