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find written in Scripture on the subject. St. Luke in the first chapter of the Book of Acts tells us that Jesus
Verses 3-5. "showed himself alive after his passion, (to His Disciples,) by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: and being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water: but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence."
The very last evening Jesus had passed with His Apostles, before He was crucified, he had promised them that the Father should send them "The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost," who should teach them all things and bring all things to their remembrance, whatsoever He had said to them.* The time had come when this promise should be fulfilled, and it was expedient now that He should leave them, for if He went not away, the Comforter would not come unto them; but if he departed, he would send him unto them. And His peace He would leave with them. All these, His words, must have come back to their remembrance as He now spoke to them.
JOHN xxi. 21. "Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I
you." LUKE xxiv. 49. "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."
JOHN XX. 22, 23. "And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whosoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosoever sins ye retain, they are retained." MARK XVI. 15-18. "And he said unto them, Go ye into
• John xiv. xv.
all the world and preach the Gospel to every creature. He that believeth, and is baptized, shall be saved, and he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall 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 recover."
Thus did our Saviour give His apostles their commission, imparting to them His own Holy Spirit. He breathed upon them, saying, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost; " and as at the first when man was formed by the Lord God out of the dust of the ground, "He breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul," so now did the breath of the Son of God impart a diviner life to His apostles. From this time they were gifted with powers like His own; they could, when the cause of God required it, read the hearts of their fellow-men, they had power to forgive or to punish the sinner, to remit or to retain the sin, and they should not be mistaken in their judgments. They were to go into all the world, to preach the gospel, the glad good news of salvation through Christ, to every creature. Little had the Pharisees and the Chief Priests gained by bringing about the death of Jesus. They were immediately to find in His stead, his twelve apostles (for the Traitor's place was speedily filled,) going forth with all his powers to proclaim the finished work of redemption.
Now they might learn the meaning of the parable of the mustard-seed. In vain would they slay and persecute, they could not hinder the establishment of the kingdom of Christ. Wherever the word was sown, men gifted from on high with supernatural powers, should arise, and by miracles should confirm the truth of their commission.
The dominion of the Jewish priesthood was gone for ever. To
them salvation was offered on the same terms as to the rest of mankind. If they believed, and were baptized, they should be saved, if they believed not, they should be damned. The separating wall between Jew and Gentile was no more. Circumcision was at an end. The Church of Christ was now to be established, and baptism was the holy rite by which believers were to be admitted into it.
Even yet the expectations which had arisen from the manner in which they had been taught to understand certain parts of the prophecies clung round the minds of the apostles. They could not divest themselves of the long-cherished idea, that the Messiah king was to restore Israel, at least to the height from which they had fallen. He would not surely leave his own peculiar people, the seed of Abraham, helpless, and degraded into a Roman province !
ACTS i. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 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.”
Is there not a lesson for us also in this reply of our Lord to his apostles.
It is not given to us to know the times and seasons. the Almighty has kept in His power; but it is given to us to carry on His work. Let us with humble, teachable spirits watch the unfolding of his great designs. He has in His infinite love made known to us the riches of his gospel, whereby men may be saved. tongue is spoken, wherever we or our
grace, the glory of His Therefore, wherever our children dwell, at home
or abroad, may we be His witnesses even "to the uttermost parts of the earth."
The Saviour's work on earth is done. He must now return to His Father's throne, there (till He comes again,) to make continual intercession for His people. The hour is come; and once again, He seeks with His apostles, the Mount of Olives.* We know not whether it was in the morning, or in the evening, or at noon day. All that we do assuredly know is that which.
LUKE xxiv. 50, 51. "And he led them as far out as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands and blessed them, and it came to pass, while he blessed them he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven.”
Acts i. 9-11." And while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, 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.”
LUKE xxiv. 52. "And they worshipped Him."
And we worship Thee, O Jesus, Holy and adored Saviour. Thou hast opened for us the gates of heaven, and we believe that Thou shalt come again in glory to judge the world. "Therefore with angels and archangels, and with all the company of heaven, we laud and magnify thy glorious name: evermore praising Thee, and saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and earth are full of thy glory: Glory be to Thee, O Lord Most High;""for Thou only art holy: Thou only art the Lord: Thou only, O Christ, with the IIoly Ghost, art most high in the glory of God the Father."
*Acts i. 12.
Whilst blessing His disciples, calmly, slowly, Jesus rose into His native skies. He is gone, but His blessing remains. Now we know that "as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." His work ordained from the beginning is complete. Satan's power is overthrown, and Christ has wrested from him the victory. With his own arms He has overcome him. Through the weakness of the first woman, Satan tempted the first man, and they with all their offspring were cast out from the family of God. Light cannot dwell with darkness, neither can sinful flesh and blood inherit the kingdom of heaven; but Christ the Lord, the Eternal Son of the Father Almighty, undertook and carried out the salvation of the world. As woman may be said to have been made, by Satan's art, the mother of death, so Jesus made her the mother of life, for He was born of woman. Through the weakness of childhood, nursed by her tender care, He passed into manhood, subject to all the conditions of mortality. In the form and nature of man, He overcame sin, death, and the grave, and then returned to His Father's throne, upbearing in His own person, man's nature redeemed and spiritualized. †
Thus "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ." ‡ And oh! while we thus rejoice in the Redeemer's finished work, let us not forget the concluding verse :-"Therefore, (since this is so) my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." §
Thus did the Apostles. Having worshipped their ascended
* 1 Cor. xv. 22.
+ Compare with introduction to Vol. I. Jesus Christ the fulfilment of all the promises. Ibid 54-57. § Ibid 57.