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mortals in the abyss of his own omniscience. This only is of importance 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 unto me with great success, not only in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, but to the uttermost parts 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 so ordered as to dispose the inhabitants for the reception of the gospel. “ All power is given me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, (Mark, xvi. 15, 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. Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.”*
Such baptized believers, he assured them, should receive the pardon of their sins, together with eternal life ; but those who did not believe and obey the gospel when preached to them, should be damned.t And to encourage them in the great and difficult work which he now 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 counsel, to assist them by his Spirit, and to protect them by his providence. Finally, that those who through their preaching were induced to believe, should themselves work most astonishing miracles; a circumstance which should contribute greatly towards the spreading of the gospel. 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
• You. Matt. xxyiii. 18.
+ Damned. Mark xvi: 16:
receiving him out of their sight, that is, covering himi 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 had promised them. “And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold two men stood by them in white apparel :” two angels stood by them, who, though they had assumed the form and garb of men, were, by the majesty and splendor of their appearance, known of the apostles to be angels. For as Christ's resurrection had been honoured with the appear
. ance of angels, it was natural to think that his ascension into heaven would be so likewise. 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 have 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. 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 iheir Master all the time he was mounting As he ascended up into the skies, the flaming cloud which surrounded him, leaving a track of light be. hind 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
• Changed. For flesh and blood, such as he arose with, cannot inherit the kingdom of God. Accordingly the body which he now has, is called a glorious body, and declared to be of the same nature with that which the saints shall have after their resurrection. Phil. iii. 21, “ Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body." Wherefore, though the Scripture is silent as to the time when this change passed upon Christ's body, we must suppose that it happened either immediately before his ascension, or in the time of it, or soon after it.
himself in a peculiar' manner.
“ And sat on the right hand of God:"* that is, in his human 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 anciently, and superior natures, with joy descried as to happen, and 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 de. light 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 apostles having seen their Master ascend into heaven, were fully convinced of his having come down thence, and of his being the Messiah. This persuasion they testified by paying him divine honours.
“ And they wurshipped him.”ť His ascension, therefore, gave the apos- . tles great joy, and the more so, that in all probability they did not consider it as their Master's final parting with them. For we may reasonably suppose they understood what the angels said unto them concerning his return, not of his return to judge the world at the last day, but of his return to restore and take upon himself the kingdom of Israel, an event which they would expect to happen very
After the apostles returned to the city, they spent the greatest part of their time in the temple, praising and blessing God, as for all his benefits, so in particular for
the resurrection of their Master from the dead, for his glorious ascension into heaven, and for the promise that was made them concerning his return. The apostles, about eight days after this, received the Holy Ghost according to their Master's promise.
Tulus endeth the history of the life of Christ; a life the greatest and best that ever was led by man, or ever was the subject of any history. The human character of Jesus, as it results from the accounts which the evangelisis have given of him, for they have not formally drawn it, is entirely different from that of all other men w hatsoever. For whereas they have the selfish passions deeply rooted in their breasts, and are influenced by them in alniost every thing they do, Jesus was so entirely free from them, that the narrowest scrutiny cannot furnish one single action in the whole course of his life, wherein he consulted his own interest only. The happiness of others was what he had chiefly at heart. And while his contemporaries followed, some one kind of occupation, some another, Jesus had no other business but that of promoting the welfare of men. “ He went about doing good.” He did not wait till he was solicited, but sought opportunities of conferring benefits on such as stood in need of them, and always " reckoned it more blessed to give than to receive;" in which respect he differed exceedingly from the rest of mankind, and was much more like to God than to man. In the next place, whereas it is common even for persons of the most exalted faculties, on the one hand to be elated with success and applause, and on the other to be dejected with great disappointments, it was not so with Jesus. He was never more courageous than when he met with the greatest opposilion and the worst treatment, nor more humble than when men fell down and worshipped him. He came into the world inspired with the grandest purpose that ever was formed, even that of saving, not a single nation, but THE WHOLE WORLD; and in the execution of it went through the longest and heaviest train of labours that ever was sustained ; and that with a constancy of resolu
tion, on which no disadvantageous impression could be made by any accident whatsoever. Calumny, threatenings, opposition, bad success, with the other evils befalling him, served only to quicken his endeavours in this glorious enterprise, which he pursued unweariedly till he finished it by his death. In the third place, whereas most men are prone to retaliate the injuries that are done them, and all seem to take a satisfaction in complaining of the cruelties of those who oppress them, the whole of Christ's behaviour breathed nothing but meekness, patience, and forgiveness even to his bitterest enemies, and in the midst of extreme sufferings. The words,“ Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do,” uttered by him when his enemies were nailing him to the cross, fitly expressed the temper which he maintained through the course of his life, even when assaulted with the heaviest provocations. The truth is, on no occasion did he ever signify the least resentment by speech or by action, nor indeed any emotion of mind whatever, except such as flowed from pity and charity, consequently such only as expressed the deepest concern for the welfare of mankind. To conclude, the greatest and best men have had failings which darken the lustre of their virtues, and shew them to have been men. This was the case with Noah, Abraham, Moses, Job, Solomon, Paul, and the other heroes celebrated in history. The same thing may be said of all the greatest geniuses in the heathen world, who undertook to instruct and reform mankind; for, omitting the narrowness of their knowledge, and the obscurity with which they spake upon the most important subjects, there was not one of them who did not fall into some gross error or other, which dishonoured his character as a teacher. The accounts we have in history of the most renowned sages of antiquity, and the writings of the philosophers still remaining, are proofs of this. It was otherwise with Jesus in every respect. For he was superior to all the men that ever lived, both in the sublimity of his doctrine, in the purity of his manners, and in the perfection of his virtues. He “ was holy, harmless, undefiled, and separate from sinners." Whether you consider him as a teacher or a