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them; yet, on the whole, but few; in truth, much fewer than can be imagined without a particular inquiry into the number of them: And of these few, the greater part were employed in declaring the corruptions, that should hereafter be made of the new religion, they were teaching, and the disasters that should befall the teachers of it; and scarce one, directed against their present and personal

enemies.

All this is astonishing, and unaccountable on the common principles of human nature, if left to itself in the management of such a faculty as that of prophetic inspiration. And, though, on these principles, it was to be supposed, nay, might certainly have been concluded, that a set of the craftiest impostors, or of the honestest fanatics, that ever lived, must, in the end, dishonour themselves by the exercise of such a power, and defeat their own. purpose; yet, to the surprize of all reflecting men, they have maintained, to this day, their character of veracity, not one of their prophecies having fallen to the ground; and, what is more, with so many chances against the success of their cause, they have triumphed over all opposition, and have established in the world a new religion with that force of

evidence, which, as their Master divinely foretold, all their adversaries have not been able to gainsay.

In a word, the EVENT has been, and is such, as might be expected, if the divine assistance promised, was actually imparted to them; but improbable in the highest degree, or rather impossible to have taken place, if fraud, or enthusiasm, had been concerned, either in giving, or fulfilling, this promise.

It would be equally an abuse of your patience, and an affront to your good sense, to enlarge farther on so plain a point. From recollecting, and laying together, the circumstances, which have been now briefly touched, and pointed out to you, ye will conclude, That, when Jesus gave this extraordinary promise of the Spirit to his followers, he certainly knew, that he should be able to make good his engagements to them: And that this spirit, being of God, would not be at the command of his followers, to be employed by them, as their passions, or short-sighted policies, might direct; but would operate in them, according to the good pleasure and unerring wisdom of HIM, who sent this celestial guide; or, in the words of the text, that he should not speak of

himself, but whatsoever he should hear, that, only, he should speak.

No ill effects would, then, proceed from the privilege of being let into new truths, or, of being entrusted with the power of foretelling things to come. And, from the very consideration, that Jesus had engaged to confer such privileges upon his disciples, who, if not overruled in the use of them, that is, if not truly and immediately inspired, would, or rather must, have employed them to the discredit and subversion of his own design; from this single consideration, I say, it may fairly be concluded, especially when we can now compare the assurance with the event, That He himself was the person, he assumed to be, that is, A DIVINE PERSON; and his religion, what we believe it to be, THE WORD AND WILL of

GOD.

SERMON XLIV.

PREACHED MAY 29, 1774. T. S.

ACTS i. 11.

Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you, shall so come, in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

As the entrance of Jesus into the world, so his departure out of it, was graced by the ministry of angels. Events, so important as these, deserved, and, it seems, required, to be so dignified. His birth was, indeed, obscure and mean; and therefore the attendance of those flaming ministers might be thought necessary to illustrate and adorn it. But his ascension into heaven was an event so full of

glory, that it needed not, we may think, any additional lustre to be thrown upon it by this celestial appearance. For what so likely to raise the ideas and excite the admiration of those, who were witnesses of this event, as the fact itself, so sublimely and yet so simply related in these words of the sacred historian while they beheld, he was taken up, and a cloud received him out of their sight?

We may presume, then, that the heavenly host were not sent merely to dignify this transaction, in its own nature so transcendantly awful; but for some further purpose of divine Providence. And we find that purpose expressed very plainly in the words of the text; which contain an admonition of great importance, and direct the attention of the disciples to the true end, for which this scene of wonder was displayed before them. For while they looked stedfastly toward heaven, as he went up, 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.

The Apostles, we may suppose, were only occupied with the splendor of the shew; or

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