« AnteriorContinuar »
lieveth and is baptized, shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe : In my name shall they cast out devils ; they shall speak with new tongues ; 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 re
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into Heaven.” St. Luke, has the discourse thus in his Gospel; “ And said unto them, thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day : And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And behold I send the promise of my Father upon you ; but tarry ye in Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high. And he led them out as far as Bethany; and he lifted up his hands and blessed them. And it came to pass as he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into Heaven.”
Now it is evident, that however these accounts may differ among themselves, there is not the slightest appearance of contradiction-they are on the contrary, to be fairly considered as parts of one and the same design, instructions and explanations upon similar subjects, derived from like sources, and such as we may naturally expect our Divine Teacher, speaking at any length, would employ.
Particularly we are to observe one grand object common to them all ; a reference to the promise of the Holy Ghost given by Christ before his death, by which they should receive a power of working miracles; and now more expressly renewed, as soon about to take place. This last conference of our Lord with the disciples must have lasted a considerable time; for he conversed with them while they sat at meat, and afterwards led them out to some distance from the city. He had ample occasion, therefore, for the mention of all these, and many more equally important circumstances: and it is very probable, that if some other historian had recorded the transaction, he would likewise have clothed it in a manner somewhat differing from the rest. The sacred writers, you are to consider, do not profess to relate every particular in the life and conversation of their Lord; so far from it, that St. John uses language of uncommon and even exceeding force to prevent such mistake : “ The which (things) says he, if every one were written, I suppose that even the world itself would scarce contain all that might be written.” In accounts so short and simple, transactions abounding with incidents, or like the present with various topics of discourse, must, in passing through different hands, assume different forms, according to the several views taken of them by the sacred writers ; each selecting for himself those points, which made the deepest impression on
his mind, or seemed best to accord with his narra. tive. Such a manner is much less suspicious than an entire agreement with each other in every minute circumstance ;-arguing a consciousness of truth, independent sources of evidence, and a freedom from all unfair concert and design. We may safely pronounce it, therefore, on this very account, the more entitled to credit and authority.
These observations may serve to remove general objections of this kind brought against the sacred writings. They are strengthened, I think, in the particular case before us, when we consider two of the accounts in question, as coming from the same author. A person anxious to impose a fraud would not be apt, in the second relation of an important event, to make a considerable change by introducing new matter. Whereas a writer of conscious integrity would disdain all such minute caution; and would freely state the facts which arose to his mind, without regarding his former account. It is enough for him that both are true, and that truth is ever consistent with itself. If in common life a man were to write to different friends the substance of an interesting discourse of some length, it is highly probable that, unless he copied one from the other, his accounts would contain different circumstances : for what principally struck him yesterday will perhaps yield to something equally striking to-lay. Now if these letters were con
pared, would it not be thought a strange instance of incredulity and calumny, to charge the writer with falschood ? Surely we should rather conclude him for this reason to be more fully acquainted with the subject, and as treating it free from all restraint. You see then how weak and void of all foundation is the charge grounded upon a disagreement of the evangelists in some particulars : for this is hardly to be avoided by the same writer recording the same events on different occasions. How much less can we expect it in other cases ! And if we examine the instances before us, we shall find just what might be reasonably supposed. The relations made by St. Luke, though in some points unlike, approach one another more nearly than either do to that of St. Mark; because the views of the same person at different times must be presumed more similar than those of different persons of various characters and situations.
Having thus I hope satisfied you upon this point, I proceed now to consider what followed immediately after our Lord's ascension, as related in the 10th and 11th verses : 6 And while they looked steadfastly toward Heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel ; which also said, Ye men of Galilec, why stand ye gazing up into heaven ? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner, as ye have seen him go into heaven.” The
Apostles here seem to be so far overpowered by the stupendous event of Christ's ascension, as to lose all attention to every thing else. From this state of fixed astonishment these angels were graciously sent to recall them, by reminding them of his design to come again as he had foretold ; figuratively, in power, which was to be soon manifested in the utter ruin of the Jewish state ; and actually in person, at the end of the world. Instead then of continuing in their present amazement, it became their duty to set about the active purposes of their ministry-to prepare themselves and mankind for the awful appearance of their Lord in glory. And to this end the vision of Angels must have greatly contributed ; for had their hearts been left under the power of grief and wonder for his loss and manner of departure, it is hard to judge what might have been the consequence. But being thus at once consoled and brought to their recollection, we find them readily undertaking their duty. “ They returned unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath-day's journey.” Mount Olivet is of considerable extent, approaching on one side nigh to Jerusalem. It was from that part of it where Bethany was placed, that the Apostles saw our Saviour ascend into Heaven; and it was from Jerusalem a sabbath-day's journey, which is generally supposed to be about