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(see chap. xix. 35.] who likewise speaks of himself in the plural number, 1 epist.
l'o conclude: the verse under consideration is shewed to be genuine, by a similar
passage in the conclusion of the third epistle, verse 12 : “yea, and we also bear record, and ye know that our record is true.” Wherefore, the chapter being genuine, this verse is an addition of the Ephesian bishops, as some critics would bave us believe, who propose that it should be read in parenthesis. [25.] And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen."
" And now the time approached when Jesus was to shew himself publicly in Galilee. This was the most remarkable of all his appearances. He promised it to the apostles before his death. (Mat. xxvi. 32.] The angels who atteured at his resurrection spake of it to the women who came to the sepulchre, and represented it as promised to them also. [Mark xvi. 7.) Nay, Jesus himself, after his resurrection, desired the company of women to tell bis brethren to go into Galilee, where they should see him ; as if the appearances he was to make that day, and on the eighth day thereafter, were of small in portavce in comparison. Moreover, the place where he was to appear in Galilee was mentioned by him. So Matthew informis us, xxviii. 16. Then thc eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. Whether there were more present at this appearance than the eleven, the evangelist docs not say ; nevertheless, the circumstances of the case direct us to believe that it had many witnesses. This appearance was known before-havd; the place where it was to happen was pointed out by Jesus hiinself. The report, therefore, of his being to appear, inust have spread abroad, and brought many to the place at the appointed time. In short, it is reasonable to think that most of the disciples now enjoyed the happiness of beholding personally their Master raised from the dead. What confirms this supposition is, that Paul sa se expressly, Jesus, after bis resurrection, was seen of above five hundred brethren at one tiine. [1 Cor. xv. 6.] “ After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain unt> this present, but some are fallen asleep.” For the number of the witnesses mentioned by Paul, agrees better to the appearance on the mountain in Galilee described by Matthew, thau to any other. Galilee having been the principal scene of Christ's ministry, the greatest part of his followers lived there ; for which reason, he chose to make what may be called his most solemo and public appearance after his resurrection on a mountain in that country; an appearauce to which a general meeting of all his disciples was summoned, not only by the angels wbo attended his resurrection, but by our Lord himself, the very day ou which he arose.
(17.) And when they saw hiin, they worshipped him: but some doubled. The greatest part were so fully convinced that the person they saw was their Master, that they worshipped him. But with respect to a few, their joy on seeing the Lord put them into a kind of perturbation; and their desire that it might be him, made them afraid it was not. This reason is assigned by Luke for the unbelief of some on a former occasion, chap xxiv. 41 ; and therefore it may fitly be offered to account for the unbelief of others on this : besides, the thing is agreeable to pature ; men being, commouiy afraid to believe what they vehemently wish, lest they should indulge themselves in faise joys, which they must soon lose. Probably, at this appearance, the apostles received orders to return to Jerusalem ; for from Acts i. 3..12, compared with Luke xxiv. 50, it is plain that our Lord's discourses before his ascension, related Mark avi, 15, and Luke xxiv. 44, were delivered in ni near to the city. Besides, he ascended from the mount of Olives, as we shall see immediately. Wherefore, if the orders for
the apostles to repair to Jerusalem were not given at this appearance, Jesus must have shewed himself again, which, indeed, is not impossiblc; as it is evident from 1 Cor. xv. that he shewed himself somewhere to the apostle James alone, though Bone of the evangelists have given the least hint of that appearance. [7.] After that (viz. his appearance to the five hundred brethren) he was seen of James. In the college of the apostles there were two persons of this naine ; one, the brother of John, who was killed by Herod; another, the brother or cousin of Jesus. Perhaps it was to James the brother of John that our Lord appeared after his resurrection, His heing to suffer martyrdom so early, might make this special favoui necessary.
“ Thus Jesus, [Acts i 3.) shewed himself alive, (to the apostles whom he had chosen, and to his other disciples,) after his passion, by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. It seems, he continued on earth fórty days after he arose ; and, in several interviews which he had with his disciples during that period, he gave them many infallible proofs of his resurrection, and discoursed to them concerning the new dispensation of religion wbich he was going to erect in the world hy their ministry; and so, having accomplished all the purposes of his coming, nothing remained but that he should ascend' into leaven in the presence of his apostles. These men were now gone up to Jerusalem to prepare themselves for the feast of Pentecost. Thither Jesus went, and shewed himself to them for the last time ; and because they were still in deep dejection on account of the afflictions of bis life, and the ignominy of his death, he, on this memorable occasion, introduced that subject; putting them in mind that, during his abode with them in Galilee, he had often told them, that all the things written in the law, prophets, and Psalms, concerning him, were to be fulfilled. [Luke xxiy. 44, 45.] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures. By the operation of his spirit, he removed their prejudices, cleared their doubts, enlarged their memories, strengthened their judgments, and enabled thein to discern the true meaning of the scriptures. Having thus qualified them for receiving the truth, he assured them that Moses and the prophets had foretold that Messiah was to suffer in the very manner he had suffered ; that he was to rise from the dear on the third day, as he had done ; that repentance and remission of sins were to be preached in Messiah's name among all nations, beginning with the Jews ; and that the first offers of these blessings were to be made to such of them as dwelt in Jerusalem, Then he told them, that in him they had beheld the exact accom, plishment of all the prophecies concerining the sufferings and resurrection of Messiah, and that they were chosen bư God as the witnesses of these things, in order that they might certify them to the world. (Luke xxiv. 48.] And ye are witnesses of these things. Withal, to fit thein for this great and important work, he told them that he would send upon them miraculous gifts of the Spirit, which he called the promise of the Futher ; because God had promised them by the prophets. At the same time, he commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem till they had received those gifts. The season of their receiving the gifts of the Spirit was so ncar, and the work for which they were to be bestowed was so urgent, that the apostles could not leave Jerusalem, even on pretence of going home, especially as it was determined by the prophets, that in Jerusalen, the preaching of repentance and remission of sivs should begir: to qualify them for which, ihe gift of miracles wis to be bestowed upon them. To conclude: he told them that the dignity of his character, who was their Master, and the efficacy of his ministry, should be demonstrated to he greater than John's, by the miraculous gifts to be bestowed on them. For whereas John only baptized
his disciples with water, he would baptize both them and their converts with the Holy Ghost. (Acts i. 5 ] For John truly baptized with water, but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not muny days hence.
Having thus spoken, he led them out of the town to the mount of Olives; and being come to that part of the mountain which was above Bethany, the apostles, whose minds were still full of the temporal monarchy, asked him if he would now restore the kingdom to Israel. [Luke xxiv. 50.] And he said unto them, it is not for you to know the times or the seusons which the Father hath pui in his own power. It will not be of any use to you in your work to know the times or the seasons of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Besides, this is one of the things which the Father hath thought fit to conceal from mortals in the abyss of his omniscience. This only is of inportance to you to know, that you shall receive miraculous powers after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you, and that by these powers you shall bear witness uuto me with great success, not only at Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, but uuto the uttermost part of the earth. [Acts i. 8.) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you ; and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Moreover, he told them that he was now raised to the government of heaven and earth ; for which reason, they might go courageously through the whole world, and preach the gospel to every reasonable creature, well assured that affairs, in all countries, should be sn ordered, as to dispose the inhabitants for the reception of the gospel. [Mat. xxviii. 18, 19.] And he spake unto them, saying, all porcer is given me in heaven and in earth. Gu ye, therefore, and teach all nations (Mark, preach the gospel to every creature.) withal, those who believed in consequence of their preaching, he appointed to be received into his church by the rite of baptism, and be taught to obey all the precepts he had enjoined them-baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. [20.] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you. Such baptized believers, he assured them, should receive the pardon of their sius, together with eternal life ; but those who did not believe and obey the gospel when preached to them, should be damned. [Mark xvi. 16.] He that believeth and is baptizcd shall be saved; but he that believerh not shall be danıned. Aud to encourage them in the great and difficult work which he vow assigned to them, he promised that, while they were employed in it, he would be with them and their successors in the ministry to the end of the world, to guide them by his couvsel, to assist them by his Spirit, and to protect thcın by his providence. ]Mat. xxviii. 20.] And, lo, I am with you always, even untu the end of the world. Amen.
Finally, that those who through their preaching were induced to helieve, should themselves work most astonishing miracles ; a circumstance which should contribute greatly towards the spreading of the gospel. Nay, he mentioned the particular
, miracles which they should be enabled to perfor n. (Mark xvi. 17.] And these signs shall follow them that believe : in my name shall They cast out devils : they shall speak with new tongues ; [18.] They shall take up serpents ; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
" When he had spoken these things, he lift up his hands, and blessed them; and, in the action of blessing them, he was parted from them in open day-light, perhaps, about mid-day, a bright cloud receiving him out of their sight, that is, covering him about, and carrying him into heaven, not suddenly, but at leisure, that they might behold him departing, and see the proof of his having come down from heaven, which he promised them, John xvi. 28. Two angels stood by them, who, though they had assumed the form and garb of men, were, by the majesty and splendour of their appearance, known of the apostles to he angels : for, as Christ's resurrection had been honoured with the appearance of angels, it was natural to think that his ascension into heaven would be so likewise. [Acts i. 11.] which also said, ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? (it seems, they looked up stedfastly after he was gone out of sight, expecting, perhaps, to see him come down again immediately) this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye hude seen him go into heaven. He shall come in the same glorious manner in which you have now seen him ascend. The angels spake of his coming to judge the world at the last day, a description of which Jesus in his life-time had given. (Mat. xvi. 27.] " For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his father with his angels.” Wherefore the cloud whereon the Lord now ascended, being the same with that in which he is to come again, was more bright and pure than the clearest lamhent flame; for it was the glory of the Father, that is, the Schechinah, or visible symbol of the divine presence, which appeared to the patriarchs in antient times, which filled the temple at its dedication, (2 Chron. vii. 3.] and which, in its greatest splendour, cannot be beheld with niortal eyes; so, for that reason, is called the light inaccessible, in which God dwells. [1 Tim. vi. 16.] It was on this occasion, probably, that our Lord's body was changed, acquiring the glories of immortality, perhaps, in the view of the disciples, who looked at their Master all the time he was mounting.
[Acts i. 10. As he ascended up into the skies, the flaming cloud which surrounded biin, leaving a track of light behind it, marked his passage through the air, but gradually lost its magnitude in the eyes of them who stood below; till, soaring high, he and it vanished out of their sight; for he was received up where the deity manifests himself in a peculiar manner. [Mark xvi. 19.) And sat on the right hand of God; that is, in his huinan nature, was advanced in dignity next to the divine Majesty, all power in heaven and earth being given him: and this universal government he will hold till he fully establishes the dominion of righteousness, when he will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be all in all.”.
In this illustrious manner did the Saviour depart, after having finished the grand work which he came down upon earth to execute; a work which God himself, in the remotest eternity, contemplated with pleasure ; which angels and superior natures, with joy, descried as to happen ; which, through all eternity to come, shall, at periods the most immensely distant from the time of its execution, be looked back upon with inexpressible delight by every inhabitant of heaven. For though the little affairs of time may vanish altogether, and be lost, when they are removed far back by the endless progression of duration, this object is such, that no distance, however great, can lessen it. The kingdom of God is erected upon the incarnation and sufferings of the Son of God, the kingdom and city of God comprehendling all the virtuous beings that are in the universe, made happy by goodness and love ; and therefore none of them can ever forget the foundation on which their happiness stands firmly established. In particular, the human species, recovered by this labour of the Son of God, will view their deliverer, and look back on his stupendous undertaking with high ravishment, while they are feasting without interruption on its sweet fruits, ever growing more delicious.
TAE HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH, FROM THE ASCENSION OF OUR LORD,
TO TUE DEATH OF HEROD AGRIPPA.
The date of our Lord's crucifixien, resurrection, and ascension---the apostles return to
Jerusalem---how they employed their time---Matthias chosen apostle---the design of the feast of Pentecost---the Holy Spirit descends like tongues of fire--a concourse of strangers at Jerusalem---Peter's first scrmon; three thousund converted--the community of goods---prosperity of the church---the healing of a lame man occasions the imprisoninent of Peter and John, who are threatened and dismissed---increasing strength of the church---death of Ananias and Sapphira---the apostles having been imprisoned and examined before the council, Gamaliel gires advice tending to moderation, and the apostles arc beaten and dismisseil---seven deacons chosen---Stephen persecuted---hisdefence and death---the gospel preached in Samaria---Simon Magus--the eunuch of Ethiopia---Saul's miraculous conversion---the churches enjoy peace--- Eneas healed-Dorcus raised---Cornelius is converted, receives the Holy Spirit, and is admitted into the Christian church without circumcision---Peter defends his conduct--the gospel preached at Antioch--- Barnabas sent forth--- Agabus prophecies---Herod persecutes the Christians, slays. James the Greater, imprisons Peter, is smitten of God, and slies---observations on the faith and order of the primitive churches.
So little attentive were the antient historians to fix the dates of the transactions they record, and so great was the inconvenience which they experienced for want of popular and established æras, that, in chronological enquiries, we must generally rest contented, if, instead of arriving at certainty, we are enabled to decide upon the most probable opinion. The precise vear of the creation of the world, nf the beginning and termination of ihe flood, of the call of Abraham, of the building of Solomon's temple, of the laying the four dation of Rome, of the return from the Pabulowian captivity, of the birth of our Saviour, of the commencement and duration of his ministry, are all of them subjects of dispute. It is, however, pretty generally admitted, that the great sacrifice was offered upon mnount Calvary, on Friday, the third of April, in the year A. D. 33, in the four thousand, seven hundred, and forty-sixth year of the Julian period ; in the four thousand and fortieth year from the creation of the world; in the two thousand, three hundred, aud eighty-fourth, from the commencement of the deluge; in the two thousand and thirty-second from the birth of Abraliann; in the fifteen hundred and twenty-fourth from the publication of the ten commanı!.